Vermont had been heavily favored as a Cinderella, an upset maker, and had a real chance to continue their win streak. Unfortunately, the Purdue Boilermakers were just a bit too much for them ended the Catamount win streak, 80-70.
The Boilermakers and the Catamounts met once before, in 2015 when they honored Vermont player, Josh Spidel, who months before starting his Vermont career was severely injured in a car crash. As an Indiana native, this was a very touching moment for everyone. Josh’s recovery and subsequent travel to Vermont was a huge inspiration and drive for the team.
That drive was definitely seen in the first half for Vermont. It was a very even playing field as the game went back and forth. What Purdue could do with the height of Caleb Swanigan, Vermont was able to counter with a three. Peyton Henson had an uncharacteristic two three-pointers in the first half. With all the guys that can shoot from the perimeter, he’s not the first person to come to mind.
But when senior Kurt Steidl landed wrong and had to be brought back to the locker room, that’s when things got a little shaky. Being able to walk with help was a good sign, but when he was seated on the bench for the second half with a comment from head coach John Becker that he would most likely not be in the rest of the game, it was like something deflated in them.
Steidl is a huge asset to them. He’s the only player in recent history to hit 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, and 200 three pointers. He was a major asset not just with his versatility, but as a leader on the court. I mean, they probably missed his ability to hit threes too, but the team chugged along with their heads held high. They tried to fill the gap that he left, but it was noticeable that something wasn’t entirely right.
It also doesn’t help that Swanigan is 6’9 and listed at 250 pounds, can hit threes if he tries, and Anthony Lamb had to jump to actively guard him. Swanigan and Vince Edwards got the ball rolling in the second half and never looked back. The Catamounts were able to claw their way back within five points, but never would they take the lead.
Anthony Lamb did make quite an impression on the court. He showed off how he was the clear winner of the title “Rookie of the Year” by racking up 20 points, nine rebounds, three assists, three steals, and a block. He and Trae Bell-Haynes made big plays in both halves. Bell-Haynes made some very much needed shots, and even drew a foul near the end for three free throws.
So with the first loss since December 21st, Vermont will head back to Burlington with a 29-6 record. With only three seniors on the team, most of the impact players will be back for next season.