By now we know, more or less, what the America East picture looks like. Vermont, Stony Brook, Albany, New Hampshire, and UMBC are the contenders, while everyone else seems relegated to a spoiler role.
But the league is still loaded with intrigue, and Wednesday night was just another example of how fun the conference is on a nightly basis.
Stony Brook’s second-half comeback
Second-half comebacks have become the norm in the America East. Down 32-24 in the first half, the Seawolves clearly came back from the locker room ready to go. That’s not to say that New Hampshire faded. It’s just that Stony Brook had a fire lit that it would not let go out.
Stony Brook only made four three-point baskets, compared to New Hampshire’s nine, but all of them came in the second half. Add to that the 21 points, nine rebounds and nine assists from Lucas Woodhouse, and there wasn’t anything stopping the Seawolves.
I honestly wasn’t expecting this much from Stony Brook so soon. Getting a new head coach always comes with its own grace period, but they haven’t been bothered. Woodhouse’s return has sparked something that they can get behind. He’s averaging 15 points per game, but even more impressive has been his performance from the line. He’s currently fourth in the nation with a .934 free throw percentage. This senior leader is definitely making his mark on Stony Brook basketball.
Live by the three, die by the three
The teams in the upper half of the America East tend to be the best from long range. First-place Vermont is the second-best three-point shooting team in the conference, but it’s teams like UMBC and New Hampshire who truly rely on the long ball. The Wildcats score 37 percent of their points on threes, good for 35th in the country. UMBC ranks 95 nationally in that category.
Then there’s Hartford, which clocks in at 17 in percentage of points coming from three. The Hawks have been known to take the occasional three pointer ... or 20, per game. Yet in the America East, they are eighth out of nine teams in three-point percentage and dead last in offensive efficiency.
On Wednesday, Binghamton made seven of its 23 attempts against UMBC, but the Retrievers responded by making 12 of their own. Maine was able to keep the score pretty steady with the three ball in the first half against Vermont, but the reality is, Vermont wasn’t about to lose that game, no matter how many threes Maine put up.
Vermont stays perfect in conference play
Vermont has now won the last 11 straight games, and is a perfect 9-0 in conference play. My opinion? If anyone’s going to take down the Catamounts, it’ll be Stony Brook. With the way the Seawolves are playing, the Senior Day matchup in Burlington is going to be a must-watch event.
Vermont has the pieces to be great, and that extends beyond its starting five. The Catamounts’ main issue last year was the lack of players in their rotation. At times, they ran with essentially a six-man rotation. Compare that to this season, where Vermont has 10 players averaging double-digit minutes per game and no one playing more than 26.4.
Vermont 74 Maine 53
UMBC 92 Binghamton 74
Albany 90 UMass Lowell 77
Stony Brook 64 New Hampshire 61