From year one in Burlington it was clear that Anthony Lamb was on another level. The 6â€™6 stocky forward from Rochester, New York became an overnight sensation for the Catamounts, as he was an integral cog in helping the Cats reach a program record 29 wins in 2016. Lamb would lead the Cats in scoring (12.8), rebounding (5.5) and blocked shots (1.2) in just his freshman year and foreshadowed on what would become of his time in the green and gold.
The Rochester native tormented America East opponents for years and time after time rose to the challenge when the Cats needed him most. Lambâ€™s meteoric rise to superstardom was no coincidence, as many believed he was destined to play on a bigger stage. The 6â€™6 power forward was deemed undersized by scouts and pundits coming out of high school, but their overlooking misfortunes were a blessing for Vermont. Lamb might not have gotten the national recognition he deserved while playing at Vermont, yet he has without a doubt earned every second of the spotlight.
The awards and accolades go on and on for Lamb, as the two time America East Player of the Year has truly cemented his legacy in Vermont lure. Now, Lamb prepares to enter the NBA Draft with hopes on becoming the first modern-era Catamount to ever hear his name called. Number 3 helped set a new standard of winning at Vermont and Catamount country will forever be grateful. Letâ€™s take a quick look-back at the top three performances for Vermontâ€™s second son.
Vermont vs. St. Bonaventure 12/18/2018
42 points, 6 rebounds, 3 blocks
What. A. Game.
Vermont against St. Bonaventure has turned into quite the rivalry lately, as the last three contests have all come down to the wire, including most notably 2018â€™s double-overtime thriller. The Catamounts would find themselves on the winning side of this one in large part due to the remarkable performance of Anthony Lamb. For whatever reason, Lamb always seemed to take his game to the next level against New York teams and unfortunately for the Bonnies, Lamb put on a show for the ages.
The game itself was incredibly memorable and a great back-and-forth affair. The Bonnies would take a 43-29 lead in the second half before a 20-5 run from the Cats took back control. Vermont trailed by two in closing seconds and it seemed like the Bonnies were going to escape Burlington with the win, but an incredible put-back from Robin Duncan off a missed free-throw with 1.4 seconds remaining sent the game into overtime. The two teams exchanged buckets throughout the extra period. The Cats held the lead late, though this time it was St. Bonaventureâ€™s Kyle Lofton who sank the equalizer with seven seconds left to once again keep the game alive.
With both teams gassed, Lamb and the Catamounts made the final push in the second overtime. Lamb went into his bag yet again, hitting his sixth three-pointer of the night, before finally icing the game from the charity stripe to give the Cats a 83-76 victory. Lamb set a new career high with his 42 point outing and gave the Cats not only their first ever win over St. Bonaventure, but a season swept of Atlantic 10 opponents for the first time in program history.
Vermont at Virginia 11/19/19
30 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists
The Cats were red-hot going into this match-up. They had just knocked off St. Johns at the buzzer and were more than ready to take on the defending national champions in Charlottesville. At the time, the Cavaliers were ranked 7th nationally and had a ridiculously stifling defense, allowing only 36.6 points per game! Tony Bennett learned the hard way just how sneaky good the America East is and you best believe he was hellbent on ensuring there would be no upset this time around.
Vermont came out hot, going on a quick 7-0 run to start the game, but the Cavaliers would respond with an 11-0 run of their own to take back control. From there the two squads traded buckets, but it was anything from a barn-burner. Virginia would stretch their lead to ten with just under three minutes in the half, as Vermont struggled to produce anything on offense against Tony Bennettâ€™s suffocating defense. The Cats did manage to steal some momentum heading into the break, as Lamb would knock down a three at the buzzer to bring the Cats within six as they entered the locker room trailing 24-18. If Vermont were to have any shot at dethroning the champs, someone would need to step up. Enter Anthony Lamb.
The second half started just as the first half ended. Defense, defense, defense. Neither team would give an inch, but then it happened. Lamb, who previously had been struggling from beyond the arc knocked down a big time three. And then another. And another. Lamb began carving up Virginiaâ€™s defense like a Thanksgiving turkey. Even future NBA draft pick Mamadi Diakite couldnâ€™t slow Lamb down. The senior captain dropped 11 straight points in a two-minute span for the Cats, giving them a 40-36 lead with just under ten minutes in regulation.
The Cavaliers swarmed Lamb from that point on, forcing someone else to step up and beat them. Unfortunately for the Cats, Virginiaâ€™s adjustments would work, as Vermont eventually fell 61-55 to the defending champs. The loss was bittersweet. Vermont took Virginia down to the wire and shattered their opposing points-per-game average of 36.6 with 55. Even more remarkable was the play of Anthony Lamb. Since the arrival of Tony Bennett in 2009, only ten players have ever managed to drop at least 30 points on Virginiaâ€™s defense. Lamb finished with 30 on the dot, becoming just the 11th player of all time to do so and further cementing his legacy.
Vermont at St. Johns 11/16/19
23 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists
Once again this was another back-and-forth affair that ultimately would come down to the closing seconds. Vermont was undefeated going into their match up with St. Johnâ€™s and was looking for their first 4-0 start since the 1977-78 campaign. St. Johnâ€™s werenâ€™t quite the national powerhouse theyâ€™ve been in the past, but make no mistake about it, the Red Storm are still a highly recognized and well-respected program. The Catamounts had yet to beat a current Big East opponent since shocking former Big East conference member Rutgers in 2009. John Becker preaches how he wants to see Vermont continue to grow as a program and against St. Johnâ€™s they did just that.
It was a defensive battle early on that saw each team trade baskets and stops throughout the half. A slight lapse from the Cats saw the Red Storm capture momentum to end the half, taking a 31-26 lead into the locker room. The Cats were hanging in, but would need a big second half to secure the upset. Adjustments were made and lo and behold the Cats broke through, dropping 44 second half points.
It was a true team effort, as the Cats began firing on all cylinders. Stef Smith and Everett Duncan each had 17 points apiece, but it was star Anthony Lamb who led the way with 23 points and 13 boards. Vermont was pouring it on and seemingly had the game in control, but St. Johns would come storming back. With two big threes in the final 30 seconds of regulation the Red Storm had tied the game with just 19.3 ticks remaining. Vermont would milk the clock and hold for the last shot. With just six seconds left, Lamb would make his move. A few quick jabs caused his defender to bite just ever-so-slightly, giving Lamb just enough room to attack the elbow and pull up with his signature jumper. The shot was pure and Vermont had taken the lead with just 1.9 seconds to-go. The Cats would hold on to win and Lambs game-winning shot and performance would go down as one of the greatest in Catamount history.
That season opening Tournament title in the Bahamas against a really good Northern Kentucky team also deserves mention. Lamb brought the team back from 9 with 7 minutes left and seemingly made every key play down the stretch. I believe he finished with 26pts and 14 rebounds to go along with some blocks and steals. That victory helped propel the Cats to another NCAA Tournament bid and gave a young team confidence after losing quite a few key players from the previous season.