Central Maine won a much anticipated re-match with Vermont Tech on Sunday afternoon by a score of 74-63. CM has swept the series between the two long term rivals this year. The Knights were hoping to avenge the early season loss when the Knights entered CM's Kirk Hall with an undefeated 8-0 record and were trounced, 77-59 in what could only be described as a nightmarish shooting performance.
The nightmare continued in Sunday's rematch. The Knights shot only 19% from the floor in the first half. With four minutes to play in the first half, CM was up by 22 points. The Mustangs put on a passing clinic in the first half. They moved the ball crisply to find the open man and cashed in on six of eleven three point attempts. The halftime score was 36-17.
To the Knights credit, they did not give up. In the second half, the Knights sought to push the tempo and focused on getting the ball to their perimeter shooters. Paced by the shooting of Kevin Carr (Senrio, Westminster, MD) and Alex Tyrrell (Junior, Sydney, Australia) the Knights closed the lead to 11 by the ten minute mark . With just under eight minutes to play, Carr and Tyrrell hit two consecutive three's and the lead was down to five. The two teams battled evenly for the next four minutes, the Knights able to shave only one point off the lead. With three minutes to play the Mustangs let by four. CM went to work in the next two possessions. They worked the ball to the end of the shot clock in each possession and ended the possession with a three point field goal by Nick Hinkley. The lead was back up to nine and the Knights couldn't close the gap.
"Those two clutch three point shots were killers," said Coach Dyer after the game. "I have great respect for this team. CM demonstrates what discipline and team play is all about. They dictated the game tempo. They defended fiercely. They consistently found the open man and they hit the open shots. CM was the better team today. We missed a great opportunity to move up in the YSCC standings and in the USCAA poll. Sometimes this game is hard to understand. In both contests against CM we were uncompetitive in the first half. Its really hard to overcome a twenty point deficit and win."
The loss crushed the Knights hopes of moving up in the YSCC standings and the USCAA coaches poll. The Knights are now 14-10 on the season and 7-6 in the YSCC.
"The YSCC is extremely competitive this year. I think we could have as many as four conference teams invited to the USCAA National Tournament. This loss really dents our hopes for a bid. Now we must focus on winning the YSCC tournament. This year, all eight teams that go to the tournament have a legitimate shot at winning it. I've never seen the conference so balanced."
Vermont Tech will next take the road to battle St. Joe's in Rutland, VT on Wednesday at 8pm.