UMBC Defense Throttles Vermont; Sherburne Nets 20 as Retrievers Hand Catamounts First AE Loss, 74-61

photo by: Brian Jenkins
photo by: Brian Jenkins

Burlington, Vt. – Graduate student forward Joe Sherburne (Whitefish Bay, Wisc.) scored 20 points as visiting UMBC handed Vermont its first America East setback of the season, stifling the Catamounts, 74-61.


UMBC has won three straight and improved to 12-9 overall and 4-2 in league play, while Vermont saw its six-game winning streak halted and fell to 15-5, 5-1.


The Retrievers, who entered the game sporting the nation's 30th best defense, allowing 64.4 points per game, held Vermont more than 15 points below their season scoring average. The Catamounts had won their first five league games by an average of 22.8 points per victory.


"It was a total team effort tonight," said head coach Ryan Odom. "Winning on the road in the America East is very hard and is especially hard to do at Vermont. Credit to our guys for hanging in there in the first half after that fabulous start by Vermont."


The UMBC defense was never more evident than in the opening sequence of the second half. With the score knotted at 32-all, they held the hosts without a field goal for the first 11:18 of the period. The Retrievers started the half on a 14-0 run and extended it to 19-2 before Vermont's Ernie Duncan hit a trey to halt the drought to cut their deficit to 53-39.


The Catamounts would get as close as 60-52 with 3:46 remaining, but, out of a time out, UMBC junior guard K.J. Jackson (Houston, Texas) hit a driving layup. After a Catamount miss, freshman guard R.J. Eytle-Rock (London, England) also scored on a drive to restore the lead to 12 points with 2:42 remaining.


UMBC, one of the nation's leaders in second half scoring differential, increased that to +148 by outscoring Vermont, 42-29 in the second half. The Retrievers converted 14-of-23 shots from the floor (60.9 percent) and only committed five second half miscues.


Defensively, UMBC blocked a season-high eight shots, including four by junior post Sam Schwietz (Frisco, Texas). Schwietz, starting his third consecutive game in place of the injured Daniel Akin (London, England) scored a career-high 9 points.


Sherburne, whose previous high versus Vermont was 12 points two seasons ago, snapped a three-game drought behind the arc, knocking down 3-of-4 attempts.


Ernie Duncan led all scorers with 22 points, but Vermont was held to 34 percent shooting (18-of-53) from the field.


UMBC shot 52.2 percent (24-of-46) from the floor for the game and outrebounded Vermont, 35-29.  

The Catamounts got out to a blazing start, hitting four of their first five treys and building a quick 12-2 lead. But UMBC would clamp down defensively, draw several charges and gradually work their way back into the game. Sherburne led a balanced scoring effort with 8 points and sophomore forward Brandon Horvath (West River, Md./Southern) marked his return to the floor by knocking down an off-balance 26-footer with seven seconds remaining to knot the score at 32-all at the break.  


Reigning America East Rookie of the Week freshman guard José Placer (Orlando, Fla.) scored 14 points and added a game-high 6 helpers in 26 minutes off the bench. Junior forward Arkel Lamar (Bridgeport, Conn.) also posted double figures with 13 points and contributed a team-high 7 caroms.


The win over Vermont was the second straight for UMBC after 23 consecutive setbacks. The previous victory – a dramatic 65-62 triumph – occurred in the 2018 America East title game at Patrick Gymnasium.

UMBC stays in New England and will take on New Hampshire in Durham on Saturday at 1:00 p.m.