Hartford may have won the tip and scored the first points, but that seemed to be all the Hawks could do right in the first half of an 81-69 loss. Hartford combined the triple whammy of foul trouble, a flagrant-one foul by Mark Nwakamma and some hot Vermont free throw shooting to put themselves into a nine-point hole at the half.
And after the break, things didn't start well either. Vermont managed to extend the lead to 18 at one point in the half despite its youth. The Catamounts turned in a phenomenal with an incredibly young and inexperienced team. It was enough to make the Hartford fans want to hide in a corner and cry.
Hartford managed a surge in the second half, after drawing three consecutive fouls, combined with a lay up that helped to close the gap. But 20 turnovers and Hawk foul trouble managed to make the small run inadequate.
The only good thing that came out of this game for Hartford was the play of Nwakamma. Since the season started he was playing his best, but something wasn't quite there. Tonight that spark lit up and he was back in action. It was a game where Hartford's usual plan of swinging the ball then kicking it out to a guy on the perimeter wasn't working and someone needed to step up. He ended the game with 19 points, something Hawk fans will find more familiar.
Corban Wroe made himself a force in the game near the very end, drawing a technical foul against Dre Wills, hitting a contested 3-pointer to bring Hartford within 11, and as always, throwing himself around on defense. Taylor Dyson also hit back to back threes to cut the lead under 10, but got called for the block while trying to extend the momentum and draw a charge. He fouled out of the game with 19 points.
Hector Harold and Cam Ward stole the show for Vermont. Harold ended with 12 points while the freshman Ward set an early career high with 19 points.
While Vermont came out and showed the rest of the conference that despite their lack of veteran players, they're still a tough team to beat, Hartford is going to have to find a way to dig their way out of this loss.