Last week we told about how both the UVM basketball teams had won conference championships, and each had a ticket to the big dance. Well a week later the men, despite a valiant effort, lost their opener 79-56 to a Syracuse team that has a legitimate shot at a national championship. The women however upset the seventh seeded Wisconsin Badgers 64-55 in the opening round, and had a second round date with regional host Notre Dame this past Tuesday.
The men played Syracuse tough, never going away. The Orange held a commanding 34-10 lead with 6:29 left in the opening half, and looked like they would blow UVM out of the gym. But the Cats turned it around and outscored Syracuse 15-3 to cut the lead to 37-25 at the break. But Syracuse took note and made sure they took control. UVM wouldn't get any close then 13 the rest of the way, and Syracuse slowly pulled away in the second half.
Syracuse had five players reach double digits, led by junior forward Wesley Johnson, who hade a game high 18 points. Sophomore guard Scoop Jardine came off the bench to score 14 more. Rickey Jackson contributed another dozen while Andy Rautins and Brandon Triche added 11 and10 more respectively to the 23 point win. The Orangemen went on to defeat Gonzaga 87-65 last Sunday and were scheduled to play Butler in the Western Regional semifinals this past Thursday night.
Senior forward Marqus Blakely paced the Cats with 17 points. UVM got an additional 13 points from junior forward Evan Fjeld. The Catanounts end a successful 2009 / 2010 campaign with a 25-10 Record and an America East Conference Championship.
In a much tighter contest the UVM Catamounts women's team built up a 33-25 halftime lead over Wisconsin. The Badgers would battle the entire second half, and would cut the lead to two points, 46-44 lead with 6:38 left. UVM responded with a huge 6-0 run to go back up by eight 52-44 with 4:11. From there they wouldn't allow the Badgers to get any closer than four points as the Cats hung on to claim the 64-55 win.