The Vermont Catamounts made their second trip to the CBI semifinals and made their second exit from the semifinals with a loss against the Nevada Wolf Pack.
Some good news for Catamount fans, Ethan O'Day, was back on the floor after missing the last two because of a knee injury. Though his final days in a Vermont uniform were limited, his presence on the court seems to be a beacon of hope.
The game started out quick, with Cameron Oliver hitting a three in the first minute of play. But not to be outdone, Kurt Steidl answered back with a three of his own. Unfortunately, that would be his only three until late in the second half. Coming in as a big three point shooter, it was rough watching him have a bad night overall. He ended the game with only nine points and five assists.
Nevada wasn't taking any chances and quickly pulled ahead with a 3-11 lead at the 16:08 mark. Vermont missed four shots and accumulated two fouls in the time it took them to grab another basket. Needless to say, this was their most challenging opponent of the tournament.
As it seems to be with the Catamounts, they clawed their way back into the game, and Drew Urqhart tied it at 11 with a jumper. Urqhart, along with two other Catamounts, ended the game in double figures. He picked up 12 points, with an impressive first half performance, and Trae Bell-Haynes and Ernie Duncan ended with 19.
Nevada's lead wasn't easy to come by. The Catamounts made sure they had to work for it and provided multiple contested shots. It was just the Wolf Pack's night, as proven by the four players in double figures, three of which were 20 points or more. Oliver led the way with a double-double, picking up 23 points and 11 rebounds. D.J Fenner was a bucket shy, coming in at 21 points, half of them coming from the free-throw line, and Marqueze Coleman with 20.
A 35-37 deficit for the Catamounts at halftime was something they were capable of overcoming. What they weren't expecting was the Wolf Pack to bring in 49 points in the second half alone. Each time Nevada started to pull away, Vermont would answer back, but never enough to get them close to lead. The score difference slowly grew larger throughout the second half, eventually topping at a whopping 18 points. By then it was too late for Vermont and once again, their efforts couldn't propel them to the final game.
Overall, Vermont gave a great effort throughout, refusing to back down or accept defeat. With all but O'Day coming back for the next season, Vermont is going to be trouble for the America East conference, especially with Bell-Haynes at point.
Nevada travels to Moorehead State for the first game of the CBI finals on Monday the 28th, then will host the second game on Wednesday the 30th.