What do you get when you mix Catamounts and Bulldogs?
Apparently, a giant sloppy mess.
There were 24 turnovers in the first half alone. I'll repeat that. Twenty four turnovers. Vermont had 11 of those while Georgia had the other 13. Possession flip-flopped back and forth through four straight turnovers at one point. Just try and picture that.
Georgia kept the lead from the beginning with Charles Mann and Marcus Thornton keeping their team in the running. Mann had a game high 29 points while Thornton added 16. They went into the locker room up 29-20 at the half feeling good about their cushion. They were the higher seed, a team from the SEC, what did they have to worry about?
Vermont wasn't about to let this be their last game. With six seniors on the roster, they wanted to get their chance to shine. They put up a 21-4 run which gave the Catamounts the lead for the first time all game. Hector Harold and Sandro Carissimo hit back to back triples to give them a 42-38 lead with 11:29 left. Things were looking good for Vermont.
They went on their run, were much more confident in their shots and most importantly, weren't turning the ball over. That is until they found themselves in foul trouble. Georgia made 24 of their 26 free throws with Mann only missing one and Thornton was a perfect 8-for-8. Whether it was good calls or bad calls, their fouls came back to haunt them. Vermont senior Clancy Rugg fouled out of his final collegiate game. It was rough to watch.
The good thing about these two teams is that they came out ready to play. A lot of people consider the NIT a step down from the NCAA and don't put a lot of effort into it. These two teams came out and truly battled for the win.
While the game didn't end the way they wanted to, the Vermont Catamounts have nothing to be ashamed of. They went 15-1 in conference play, almost beat Duke on their home court, had the 16th best non conference schedule in the country and have the most unique player in NCAA basketball history (Brian Voelkel is the only player in NCAA history to have more than 1,000 rebounds and 600 assists).
There's always next season for the Catamounts.