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America East Notebook

February 26, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments



America East Conference Notebook

by Adam Reich

Sweet home Vermont

Vermont improved its home record to 10-1 by defeating both New Hampshire and
Boston University last week at Patrick Gymnasium in Burlington. In the
Catamounts’ 85-68 win against UNH last Wednesday, junior forward Scotty
Jones tallied a career-high 21 points and ten boards in just 24 minutes.
Jones led a balanced Vermont attack that managed to score 85 points despite
the conference’s leading scorer, Taylor Coppenrath, netting only nine
points.

In a showdown between the top two teams in America East, Vermont knocked off
first-place Boston University 60-53 Saturday in front of a sellout crowd.
The win was UVM’s 20th in their last 22 contests at home. The Catamounts
exploited the smaller Terriers, going with a larger lineup that overpowered
their opponent under the boards. UVM cleaned up the glass, out-rebounding BU
44-26, while corralling fifteen offensive boards. On the perimeter,
sophomore guard David Hehn took control of the Catamount offense. Hehn, who
scored a career-high seventeen points, buried three treys and broke down the
BU press late in the game to preserve the victory. Matt Sheftic recorded his
fourth double-double of the season, collecting sixteen points and eleven
boards, while Grant Anderson also posted a double-double with ten points and
ten boards.

Rashad Bell led the Terriers with seventeen points on seven-of-eleven
shooting. Bell also managed to shut down Coppenrath for the second-time this
season, holding UVM’s star forward to eleven points on just four-of-fifteen
shooting. Coppenrath shot six-for-nineteen in a 65-62 loss at BU on January
11. But on this occasion UVM got the win and managed to slice BU’s
conference lead to just one game.

Class is in session

On February 18 the National Association of Basketball Coaches announced the
NABC Division I All-District Teams recognizing the country’s best men’s
collegiate basketball student-athletes.

Taylor Coppenrath of Vermont, America East’s leading scorer, was named to
the District I First Team. The sophomore forward is averaging 20.8 points
and 6.6 rebounds per contest for the second-place Catamounts. Just last week
Coppenrath became the ninth Catamount to score 500 points in a season, and
is now just 18 points shy of 1000 for his career. Ben Gordon and Emeka
Okafor of Connecticut and Troy Bell and Craig Smith of Boston College joined
Coppenrath on the first team.

Mr. Wilson

With twenty points against Hartford Saturday, Albany freshman guard Jamar
Wilson has now scored in double figures in twenty straight games. Wilson has
also scored 20-plus points twelve times this season, including nine of
Albany’s last eleven games. Over the past two weeks Wilson has averaged 27.3
points and six rebounds per contest while leading the Great Danes to two of
their three conference victories this season. Wilson is now just seventeen
points shy of breaking Albany’s single-season freshman scoring record.

Top Billings

In a pair of wins last week, Binghamton sophomore Nick Billings averaged
15.5 points, nine rebounds and seven blocks per game. Billings had
double-doubles in each game, scoring nineteen points with ten boards in a
76-59 win at Albany Thursday and adding twelve points with a school-record
ten blocks in a 66-54 victory over Northeastern Sunday.

A look ahead to the finish

With just one week left in the regular season, the America East conference
picture is still unclear. With Vermont’s win over BU Saturday the Catamounts
sit just one game behind the Terriers, while the rest of the conference is
scrambling to improve their seed come tournament time.

Boston University (16-9, 11-3) will host New Hampshire on Wednesday night,
and will have their hands full when they travel to face cross-town rival
Northeastern Sunday afternoon. A pair of wins for BU would lock up the top
seed in the America East Tournament.

Vermont (17-10, 10-4) finishes the season with a trip to Hartford on
Wednesday night, and then returns home to face Albany Sunday afternoon. The
Catamounts need a pair of wins coupled with a BU loss for a chance to gain
the top seed.

Binghamton (14-11, 9-6) would secure at least a tie for third place with a
win at Stony Brook Wednesday. The Bears, who are not eligible for the
conference tournament this year, finish their season with a trip to Texas
A&M-Corpus Christi on Saturday.

Hartford (13-12, 8-6) can wrap up the third seed in the conference
tournament with a pair of wins this week. But this will be a difficult task,
as the Hawks will host streaking Vermont Wednesday and Maine on Sunday.
Maine (13-14, 8-7) will overtake Hartford for the third seed if they can win
on the road Sunday. The Black Bears defeated the Hawks 82-71 in Orono back
on February 2, but the Hawks still have lost only once on their home floor
this season.

Northeastern (14-13, 7-7) can make a move this week with a pair of home
games. The Huskies face Albany Wednesday night and host the first-place
Terriers, who Northeastern beat at 72-69 Case Gymnasium, in a Sunday
afternoon affair.

Stony Brook (12-13, 6-8) is assured of at least the sixth seed in the
tournament, guaranteeing they won’t face BU or Vermont in the opening round.
However, wins over Binghamton Wednesday and New Hampshire Sunday will likely
move the Seawolves up a spot or two.

Albany (7-18, 3-11) needs a win to secure the seventh seed in the America
East tournament. But the odds are stacked against the Great Danes as they
play at Northeastern Wednesday and at Vermont Sunday.

New Hampshire (4-21, 2-12) will need to win at BU Wednesday and at Stony
Brook Sunday simply to have a chance to climb out of the basement. UNH
already knows they can start scouting for BU and Vermont.

     

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