Release: March 8, 2008
VESTAL, N.Y. -- Fourth-seeded Vermont (16-14) rallied from 11 points down in the second half to eliminate host and fifth-seeded Binghamton (14-16) 65-57 in an America East quarterfinal game Saturday afternoon from the Events Center.
With the win, the Catamounts advance to play top-seeded UMBC in Sunday's noon semifinal. Binghamton suffered its third defeat to Vermont this season and sixth straight in the series. The Catamounts have knocked Binghamton out of the America East tournament three times in the last four years.
"For the first 35 minutes we were the better team but for the last five minutes, Vermont was the better team," head coach Kevin Broadus said. "The champions in them came out. Today closes the chapter but tomorrow we start a new one."
Senior guard Mike Gordon (Plainfield, N.J.) scored a game-high 23 points in his final collegiate performance, but the lack of another offensive option hurt the Bearcats down the stretch.
"If we could have 13 Mike Gordons I would love to," Broadus said. "He was me on the court. He came to work every day with his lunch pail and gave it his all."
Nursing a 30-23 lead at the break, BU shot just 8-of-31 in the second half (26%) and the Catamounts erased an 11-point deficit before taking the lead for good with 4:58 to play. Vermont, which shot 14-of-26 in the second half of its regular-season win at the Events Center, shot 14-of-25 (56%) on Saturday. Sophomore forward Marqus Blakely, the America East Player of the Year, scored 11 of his team-high 18 points in the final frame. He converted a pair of free throws with 4:58 left to give Vermont a 51-49 lead and senior guard Kyle Cieplicki nailed a three-pointer 27 seconds later to push the margin to five, 54-49.
Binghamton missed eight of its final nine shots and the Catamounts sank three free throws in the final 34 seconds to seal the win.
In front of a boisterous crowd of 5,016, BU jumped out to a 30-19 lead late in the first half before the Catamounts trimmed their margin to seven at the break.
Sophomore forward Lazar Trifunovic (Belgrade, Serbia) added 10 points, seven rebounds and four assists, but hit just 5-of-18 from the floor, including 2-of-9 in the second half. Junior center Jaan Montgomery (Waterloo, Ontario) played a career-high 20 minutes and contributed seven rebounds and six points - both career-highs.
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