America East Standings Gains Some Clarity
Crazy to think that we’re already almost half-way through the season. Vermont picked a pair of wins in a much needed sweep of Binghamton over the weekend. While 5-3 might not have been the ideal start Catamount fans were hoping for, Vermont appears to be trending in the right direction and are now tied for third with Hartford in the America East standings, behind only UMBC (5-1) and Stony Brook (4-0).
Along with Vermont and Binghamton squaring up this past weekend, New Hampshire, UMBC, Maine, NJIT, Hartford and UMass-Lowell all took to the court. Vermont and UMBC were the only teams to cap off the weekend with a perfect 2-0 finish and if it wasn’t the case already, the two conference foes appear set for a collision course to decide the fate of the America East. They won’t meet till the end of February, but those games will be the definition of must-watch TV.
Since there unfortunately was no game recap for the Vermont-Binghamton series they’ll be included this week’s America East Recap. Let’s get into it.
Vermont Catamounts vs Binghamton Bearcats
Going into this contest Vermont had yet to complete a full weekend sweep of an opposing team and was in danger of falling even further down the conference table. Turns that “danger” was nothing more than smoke and mirrors, as the Catamounts absolutely annihilated the Bearcats in this weekend series. Vermont put the entire America East on notice with their dominant performance and you best believe the Cats are all the way back.
Vermont’s balanced offense was well orchestrated, as Ryan “Miles” Davis was hitting his notes to perfection and his Birth of the Cool AE Player of the Year campaign sounds on as he led the Cats with 25 points and 11 rebounds. Stef Smith & Wesson finally found his shot as he added another 16 for the Cats and “glocked up” the win for Vermont.
Brenton “General” Mills poured in 16 points for the Bearcats, but despite his best efforts it’s clear that his performance is not part of a complete
breakfast team. Bryce “Bane” Beamer chipped in another 14 for the Bearcats, but frankly no seemed to care who he was till he put on the mask.
Vermont controlled this game from start to finish. Binghamton did make a slight run in the second-half, but credit Vermont for keeping their foot on the gas and not letting this one slip away.
Sheeeeeesh. If you thought game one was a blowout I don’t even know how to describe this one. Vermont pulled their starters early in this one and had they left them out there any longer this game could have easily been a 50+ blowout. The Catamounts emptied their bench and every single player was able to make it into the scoresheet. Enjoy this moment, but don’t expect the Cats to be blowing out every opponent like this on a weekly basis.
No single Catamount had a career game, but Tomas “Cillian” Murphy led the way with 13 points and declared a Vermont win by order of the peaky
blinders Catamounts. Isaiah “Colin” Powell added another 12 for the Cats, as the Secretary of Stating the obvious in this one was a blowout win for Vermont.
It was a pathetic performance for Binghamton, as not a single Bearcat could crack the double-figure mark. Tyler “Perry” Bertram led the way with 8 points, but Binghamton was living in a House of Payne all day, as it was clear that this was one of those performances that should have never seen the light of day.
This was a huge win for Vermont both in a single game performance and in the grand scheme of things as they finally got the monkey on their back and swept a conference opponent. Next up for the Cats is Maine and while we’ll cover the Black Bears in a minute, Vermont could find themselves riding a five-game win streak after next weekend.
Maine Black Bears vs NJIT Highlanders
Game one between the Black Bears and Highlanders was a pretty solid affair, but NJIT was able to use a big second-half defensive performance to put the clamps on Maine and ultimately walk away with the win. Zach Cooks struggled again to find any sort of rhythm offensively in this game. After coming off a tough weekend against UML a week ago there was hope that Cooks would turn it around, but that wasn’t the case in this one as he finished with just 2 points on 1-7 shooting.
Without the help of Cooks offensively, it was Dylan “Sprouse” O’Hearn who was living the suite life all day as he poured in 22 points and constantly barked at Maine to stop running in his halls. San Antonio Brinson added another 12 for NJIT, as he took a nice scenic River Walk, soaking in all the culture and allure of the latest Highlander win.
Lechaun DuHart led the Black Bears with 18 points, but Maine could only muster 22 second-half points as the offense DuNot looked good. Stephane “Cellophane” Ingo chipped in 15 as well, but Maines plastic wrap defense couldn’t hold it together, as another game was spoiled.
It’s nice to see the Highlanders pick up a win with Cooks serving as a non-factor. Sadly despite the win it still seems like if the Highlanders are going to make any significant noise in the America East this year it will have to come off the heels of Cooks.
What an ugly game. I feel sorry for Maine and NJIT fans who had to sit through this one. Besides both teams looking like they were playing JV ball, NJIT has to be concerned with their two top scorers struggling mightily, as Zach Cooks and Dylan O’Hearn shot a combined 3-22 in this one. Shoutout to Stephane Ingo, who despite playing for Maine has now recorded a double-double in four straight games. Does the AE Player of Year race have a new dark horse candidate?
Lechaun DuHart once again led the way for the Black Bears with 15 points, but Maine’s defense monopolized the game, as NJIT was constantly told DuNot pass Go, DuNot collect $200. Stephane “Mary Jane” Ingo lit up a fatty, picking up his 4th straight double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds, as Maine looks like they’ll be In-and-Out of most games this year.
With Cooks and O’Hearn struggling to produce anything offensively, it was Souleymane Dia-go-fly-a-kite who led the team with 10 points, but while NJIT thought he held the key, they were shocked by the final results. *That Ben Franklin kite reference was a bit of a stretch.
Even at 2-4, Maine is exceeding expectations. The recent play of Stephane Ingo has been a huge boost for the Black Bears in keeping them in games. They have a huge challenge with Vermont coming up next on the docket. Don’t poke these Black Bears.
Hartford Hawks vs UMass-Lowell River Hawks
Battle of the Hawks. Bird alert was at an all-time high in this one, but it was the River Hawks who managed to take game one on Saturday. UMass-Lowell was led by a three-head attack as three River-Hawks (Obadiah Noel, Connor Withers and Salife Boudie) accounted for 63 of the team’s 71 points. Wild to think that those three alone out-scored the entire Hartford team.
No surprises here as it was Obadiah Noel “Fielding” who led the way with a cheeky 24 points, as his Mighty Boosh performance had more and more people wondering if they should drink Baileys from a shoe. Connor “Bill” Withers added another 20, assuring the River Hawks that they could Lean On him when Noel’s not strong.
Hartford was led by incumbent Miro
slav “Weinberger” Stalf who dropped 16 points, but has become the laughing stock of Burlington, VT thanks to internet sensation Johnny Wanzer who put him and his police reform platform on blast. Austin “Powers” Williams added another 14 for the Hawks, though when handed the loss he kept saying that this sort of thing is not my bag, baby.
Hartford played well in this one despite the final outcome. When the opposing team has three players accounting for over 90% of the team’s offense it’s a nightmare to stop, as it’s literally impossible to double all three.
Big turnaround game for the Hawks. Austin Williams in particular had a career game, going off for 29 points in a blowout win for Hartford. Now in his senior year, Williams hasn’t been much for the Hawks before this year, as he was more-or-less a reserve/role player at best. That script has changed dramatically in recent weeks, as Williams has really started to take over the offense for the Hawks and his pure athleticism has been on full display lately as well.
As just mentioned, it was Austin “Maisie” Williams who led the way with 29 points for the Hawks. His Stark performance was his best yet, as he needled his way through UML’s defense. No spoilers, but if he keeps this type of performance up Hartford might be able to defeat the Night King known as Vermont. Hunter Marks “Anastasio” added another 13 for the Hawks as he danced all over UMass-Lowell and watched the game clock Tik-Tok away.
For the River Hawks they were once again led by Obadiah “Stane” Noel who dropped 18, but even ripping out Tony Starks heart wasn’t enough to pick up a win. Khalil Thomas “Cruise” added another 13, but even his stern tirade on keeping safe and healthy wasn’t good enough to keep the River Hawks in this one.
Both these teams showed what they were capable of when playing at their peaks. UMass-Lowell showed they have other players besides Noel who can step up, while Hartford flipped the script in game two showing why they deserve to be mentioned with the likes of Vermont and UMBC for that top spot.
UMBC Retrievers vs New Hampshire Wildcats
Before the season started it looked like the top three teams in the conference would be UMBC, UNH and Vermont. So far, that hasn’t been the case. UMBC has looked great and while Vermont has struggled at times they now look to be back in the contender mix. UNH meanwhile has really fallen off. Granted, they’ve lost players to injury, but we all expected more from the Wildcats who after this past weekend sit at a paltry 3-3. UMBC controlled this game throughout. Maybe UMBC is just that good? Likely a little bit of both.
For the Retrievers they were led by L.J. Owens “Wilson” who paced the team 17 points. Wow. UNH really should’ve listened to their friend, Billy Zane and sat this one out. Wow. Brandon “Flowers” Horvath added another 13 as he was coming out of his cage, but doing just fine. It started out as a kiss, how did it end up like this?
The Wildcats only had one player reach double figures – Blondeau Tchoukuiengo paced the team with 10 points and frankly I got nothing with this guys name. Not a great performance from UNH.
Now this was a game. UMBC stormed back in the second-half, as R.J. Eytle-Rock hit the go-ahead shot with just under a minute left to seal the win for the Retrievers. UNH’s Blondeau Tchoukuiengo missed a shot at the buzzer, as the Wildcats fell once again UMBC and now face an uphill battle to even find themselves in contention for the America East title.
R.J. Eytle-”Kid”-Rock said my name is KIIIIIID! As he poured in a season high 27 points to help lift the Retrievers. Keondre “Kimmi” Kennedy erected another 13 for the Retrievers, as their little red rockets were at an all-time high.
At the other end of the court the Wildcats were led by Nick “Cannon” Guadarrama, who hit the Drumline for a career-high 34 points. Tayler “Swift” Mattos was feeling 22 as he added another 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Wildcats. UNH dropped to 3-3 on the year and it appears that the Wildcats and the America East title are never, ever getting back together. Like ever.
UNH is off to a tough start, but even Vermont was 3-3 just a week ago. They’ll need to figure out how to right the ship in a hurry though, but all is not lost for the Wildcats. As for UMBC, they continue to look like the cream of the crop of the America East thus far. They have a big match-up with Hartford this weekend. Time to find out if the Retrievers bite is bigger than their bark.
Current America East Standings