Auburn, ME - The Knights of Vermont Tech reached the Championship Game of the Yankee Small College Conference Tournament, hosted at Central Maine Community College, by defeating the Golden Eagles of Eastern Maine Community College 78-55. The men will face USCAA #1 NHTI, Vermont Tech is #8, in the championship on Monday, February 18th with tip set for 2:00pm.
The Knights controlled the pace of the game from the very beginning, getting everything they wanted and clearly frustrating the Golden Eagles of Eastern Maine CC. It was apparent early on in the contest that Vermont Tech held an advantage in several areas, not the least of which including scoring prowess in the paint.
They used this to the fullest from the very start of the game, as they continually fed the ball into 6'6" Senior Josh Lindsey (Palm Bay, FL). For the game, Lindsey went 6/9 from the floor, in addition to connecting on two free throws, to score 14 points. He also came down with 6 rebounds and 4 blocks.
After establishing the inside game, Vermont Tech began to utilize an inside-out strategy to create clean 3-point attempts. In the end, the Knights hit 50% of their 3s, connecting on 10/20, with Freshman Kyle Kissenberth (Winter Park, FL) going 5/7 from behind the arc on his way to 17 points. He also grabbed 6 rebounds and dished 4 assists.
In the first period Eastern struggled to score, and the frustration from the lack of scoring and perhaps the officials' inconsistent calls clearly got to EMCC's Head Coach Steve Rich as he received a technical midway through the half. The score at the halftime break was 38-19 in favor of Vermont Tech.
The technical fouls would prove to be a theme for Eastern throughout the game. In the end, the Golden Eagles would be called for 5 technicals, 1 intentional foul and star player Chris Lewis Jr. would be thrown out of the game early in the second half.
The Knights maintained their composure through it all, converting the technicals and general shooting fouls directly to points by shooting 76%, 16/21, from the free throw line. That is in comparison to the Golden Eagles, who while they did shoot 70% from the line, they only shot 10 total free throws.
The Knights also did an extremely good job playing overall efficient offense, as they utilized smart play to garner excellent shot attempts. They ended the game shooting 51% from the field. In addition, the Knights assisted on 17 of their 26 baskets, while the Golden Eagles did so only on 6 of their 22 made baskets.
Brandon Matano (Jr./Honolulu, HI) again led all scorers with 19 points. Senior Alex Tyrrell (Sydney, Australia) was a close second with 15 points, going 8/8 from the free throw line. Tyrrell had a complete game as he also pulled down a team-high 7 rebounds and dished out a team-high 7 assists.
Eastern was led in both scoring and rebounding by Thelbert Green with 12 points and 8 rebounds. Earl Hassell tied Green for the team-high in scoring.
With the win, the Knights are one step closer to a potential USCAA National Tournament bid. The USCAA takes 10 teams for the Men's Basketball Division II Tournament. The host team of Penn State Fayette receives an automatic bid, as does the winner of the Penn State University Athletic Conference Tournament and the winner of the Yankeee Small College Conference Tournament. The other teams are offered bids by a selection committee.
The USCAA National Tournament, hosted by Penn State Fayette, will take place February 27th-March 2nd in Uniontown, PA.