For the first time in three years, the University of Vermont mens' basketball team can claim a win over its biggest America East rival.
Riding an 18 point performance from Trae Bell-Haynes, UVM beat Albany 60-49 in upstate New York last night, snapping a five-game losing streak against the Great Danes that reaches back to 2014. The win was the Catamount's ninth in a row, and snaps Albany's winning streak at three, while UVM improves to 17-5 on the season and the Great Danes drop to 12-10. The Catamounts are on the road to play another America East rival, and the team that won the conference last season, Stony Brook, on Saturday.
Elsewhere in mens' college hoops, the Norwich Cadets fell to St. Joseph's of Maine 71-59 despite a 14 point effort off the bench from Ryan Fitzgerald.
In womens' college basketball, the Castleton Spartans gave the Middlebury Panthers all they could handle, building up a 17-point second half lead before the Panthers roared back to win 60-49. Kira Waldman led all scorers with 24 points for Middlebury, who scored the last 18 points of the contest in the comeback win. Amanda Beatty led the Spartans with 13 points, but couldn't pull off the upset and fall to 9-8 on the year, while the Panthers improve to 14-3.
In the NBA, the Boston Celtics rebounded from a loss to Washington two nights ago and put an end to their own three game losing streak, beating the Houston Rockets 120-109. Isaiah Thomas once again heard the familiar chants of "MVP" from the Garden faithful and responded with a game-high 38 points. It was Thomas' 15th game this season with at least 30 points and his 29th in a row with 20 or more. Jae Crowder added 23 points and 10 rebounds in the winning effort. James Harden led Houston with 30 points.
In the NHL, the Philadelphia Flyers have now won two games in a row for the first time in more than a month, beating the NY Rangers 2-0 at Madison Square Garden last night. Steve Mason made 34 saves to earn the shut-out and the Flyers got goals from Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek to make those saves stand up.
At the Australian Open there will be an all-sister final, as Venus Williams faces younger sister Serena for the title match in Melbourne. Venus Williams will enter the final as the oldest woman ever to compete for the Australian Open championship at age 36, after beating fellow American Coco Vandeweghe in three sets yesterday. Williams dropped the first set in a tiebreaker but took the next two. This sibling rivalry is nothing new. The Williams sisters have played each other professionally 27 times in their respective careers, and the younger Serena will definitely enter the title game as the favorite. If she prevails, she'll make history, standing alone with 23 Grand Slam championships, one more than the woman she's tied with now, Steffi Graf. The two have played nine grand slam finals against each other, the most recent a three-set victory by Serena at the U.S. Open in 2015. All-time, Williams the younger holds a 16-11 edge over her big sister.
Tennis fans of a certain age are probably hoping that another classic final will take place between two well-known veteran players, and after a just-completed match between fellows Swiss countrymen Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka, an all-veteran final is trending that way. After Federer took the the first two sets Wawrinka battled back to take the next two and forced a fifth and deciding set., which Federer won just moments ago, taking the fifth set 6 games to 3. So Federer will take on the victor of the semi-final match Saturday between Rafael Nadal and Grigor Dimitrov.