Not since the legendary Tom Brennan team of 2004-2005 has a mens' basketball squad at UVM had this kind of run. Last night the Catamounts took a page out of Spinal Tap, saying "these go to eleven", meaning the streak of wins in a row has now hit that number, the most consecutive wins during coach John Becker's tenure with the team, following a 74-53 victory over Maine at Patrick Gym.
UVM is now 19-5 on the season, matching the record after the same number of games achieved by the squad led by Taylor Coppenrath and T.J. Sorrentine that went on to win the America East conference and shock Syracuse in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Catamounts under Becker this season are a perfect 9-0 in conference play. Last night, Payton Henson tallied 13 points to go with eight rebounds, and the whole team contributed on offense, the Cats shooting a scintillating 57% from the floor while clamping down on defense to limit Maine to just 35%. The Catamounts are firing on all cylinders right now and gunning for the number one seed heading into the playoffs.
Elsewhere in mens' college hoops, the Norwich Cadets had a late rally to overcome a second half deficit against Mount Ida, tying the game at 69 with about three and a half minutes to go in regulation, but the Mustangs called a time out to stop the momentum and it worked, hitting back to back threes when play resumed and pulling away to a 79-75 win. Junior Darius Bryant had a team high 19 for the Cadets in the losing effort.
Similar story for the St. Michael's Purple Knights, who trailed by 17 in the second half against Merrimack and trimmed that lead to just three in the waning minutes, but couldn't complete the comeback in a 64-60 loss. Matt Bonds led all scorers with 21 points, as the Knights drop to 4-16 overall.
In womens' college hoops the Maine Black Bears topped UVM 59-43, avenging an earlier season loss to the Catamounts. Laia Sole had a 13 point, ten rebound double double to power Maine, while Hanna Crymble had a game high 15 point night for UVM in the losing effort.
The St. Michael's women also came up short against Merrimack, despite a game high 13 points from Leah Spencer, losing 43-38 in Colchester. The close contest reflects the records for both squads, each school now sporting 10-10 records overall.
One note from boys' high school basketball, the Enosburg Hornets are still undefeated on the season, but needed double overtime to keep that perfect mark in an 80-75 thriller over Hazen last night. Calvin Carter had a game high 31 points for Enosburg, 12 of them in the final quarter, to push the Hornets record to a perfect 13-0 on the season.
To the pros, and in the NHL the Boston Bruins fought back from a 2-0 first period deficit to tie the Washington Capitals 2-2 late in the second, but a penalty taken with less than two minutes left in the period led to an Alex Ovechkin power play goal and the Bruins ended up losing 5-3 in D.C. Nicklas Backstrom had a three point night with a goal and two assists, while Brad Marchand tallied twice for the Bruins, both goals coming on the power play, and the "little ball of hate" has been on fire of late, now with six goals in his past four games, but it wasn't enough to get a win against a team the Bruins really struggle against. Brayden Holtby got the win in net for Washington, and he's now 11-2 lifetime against Boston. Tuukka Rask played the second of back to back nights and was a bit shaky, letting in 5 goals on 22 shots. The Bruins don't play again until Saturday, which is probably a good thing since Patrice Bergeron took a puck to the leg and had to leave the game. The Bruins cannot afford to lose him fir any length of time in their quest to get back to the playoffs for the first time in three years.
To the NBA, and the Boston Celtics got a big win against a very good Toronto Raptors squad, winning 109-104 in Boston last night. Stop me if you've heard this one before, but Isaiah Thomas owned the fourth quarter, scoring 19 of his total 44 points on the night in that final frame. There's a thing that Celtics players and fans at the Garden do now once Thomas scores a bucket in the fourth quarter: everyone glances down at their wrists in a pantomime of looking at a watch, the meaning being, in the fourth, it's Thomas time. He's got the numbers to back up that growing meme. Thomas has four games with 20 points or more in the fourth quarter this season, while no other player in the league, not Lebron, not Curry, not Westbrook, has more than one.