BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP)Dylan Penn scored 21 points, Matt Veretto scored 15 and ignited a game-breaking run, leading Vermont to a 72-59 victory over UMass Lowell in the championship game of the America East playoffs on Saturday.
Vermont will be making its ninth NCAA appearance. UMass Lowell, in its sixth year of eligibility, finished as the runner-up for the second time in three years.
Midway through the second half, Veretto scored nine points in three possessions, first hitting three free throws, then adding two 3-pointers as Vermont built a seven-point lead. After a media timeout, Finn Sullivan scored in the lane to give the Catamounts their largest lead up to that time, 55-46.
The River Hawks were in the midst of a nearly four-minute scoring drought and by the time Allin Blunt made two free throws they trailed 57-48 with 4:37 to go. Penn hit a layup and Finn Sullivan’s four-point play put the Catamounts in control, 63-50 near the two-minute mark.
Penn made 8 of 12 shots, grabbed four rebounds and added two assists. Sullivan had 14 points, seven rebounds and four steals. Aaron Deloney added 10 points off the bench for Vermont (23-10), which has won 15 straight games.
Blunt led UMass Lowell (26-8) with 14 points and Yuri Covington scored 10 off the bench.
The River Hawks made only three field goals in the final eight minutes and shot 31% in the second half, 38% for the game.
After Vermont built a 16-9 lead midway through the first half, UMass Lowell rallied with a 20-5 run to lead 29-21 late in the period. Deloney’s 3-pointer got Vermont within 29-25 at halftime. The Catamounts improved to 16-2 in home playoff games since 2017 and 8-3 all-time in championship games at their Patrick Gym.
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