If there was a game to rival the intensity of the America East Championship game, it would be a match up between the Hartford Hawks and the Vermont Catamounts. They've become rivals in every sense in the past decade. Vermont has defeated Hartford on their home court for the past 10 years and Hartford's Nate Sikma hit a three point buzzer beater to win them the game last year when they met at Patrick Gymnasium.
Nothing less than full aggression was on the court. Patrick Gym is one of the harder places to grab a road win. It's small and Vermont has a good enough following for a full crowd every time.That intensity rolled over onto the court. Tempers were flaring and fouls were flying everywhere. I even got run over by Hartford's Corban Wroe as he went out of bounds and jumped over me.
Vermont went into the game down Kurt Steidl. He suffered an ankle injury earlier in the week, leaving the Catamounts one player short. But even without him, they had quite a come back.
But you have to credit Hartford for keeping these wild Catamounts at bay for most of the game. It was a back and forth journey through the entire first half and part of the second.
"For the first time in a long time we were not focused." said Vermont head coach John Becker "They're a feisty team and they play hard."
With a tied score at the half, the Catamounts came out for a fresh 20 minutes with a new game plan: score all the points. They shot 4 for 5 from the perimeter- any shot they threw up went in. It seemed like Hartford's three point magic rubbed off a little on Vermont.
"We came out in the second half, and I thought Sandro was awesome."
Hartford, not so much.
The team that's touted as the three point shooting team for America East hit only one three in the second half, a dismal 9.1%. It seems that the pressure to win again on Vermont's home court along with the energy from the crowd rattled the Hawks a bit too much.
Hartford has a few days to gear up for their final match up against Binghamton while Vermont has to gear up to play Stony Brook on their senior night.