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Sunday, December 05, 2004

 
Game Story 12/4: American 67, Vermont 64:

(Originally posted at BenLadner.com)

The game was billed as a big one for the Eagles, especially with the highly-touted Taylor Coppenrath coming to town. And so the big guns were out, the always-raucous Delta Chis out in the back right corner, and the Screaming Eagles, joined by a large group of standing, yelling people, the basketball regulars. Decent crowd (announced at about 1500), so I won't complain about school spirit for once.

The game started with an early foul, sending Coppenrath to the line. He missed the first free throw, and an "OV-VER-RA-TED" chant started. Because AU's fans, while not the best, are the most vicious in the Patriot League. (When the pep band tries to play "Rock and Roll Part II" aka "The Hey Song", they also like adding the "you suck" part, which got the song banned over at UMD.

Digression over. Patrick Okpwae drove past Coppenrath for a layup, Vermont missed a few shots, and AU began to grab momentum, taking a 9-3 lead on the much-maligned Jason Thomas's 3-pointer. Vermont crawled back, though, tying the game at 12, and then at 15 after Andre Ingram and Vermont's T.J. Sorrentine traded three-pointers. This was a rarity for Vermont, who went 2-15 from behind the arc in the first half.

The game continued like this, with AU stretching the lead to 28-19 with five minutes left in the half on a Ryan Graham three-pointer. Sorrentine and Coppenrath were the offense for Vermont, with the supporting cast not helping at all. So when those two went cold, like in this stretch, Vermont's offense collapsed. And right after Graham's three, Sorrentine scored six unanswered points in 90 seconds to close the lead to 3. Ingram hit two free throws at the 2:25 mark, and the teams played the rest of the half scoreless. AU 30, Vermont 25. Looking pretty good for the Eagles, but not enough where you could be confident.

Second half, and Vermont came out flying. A 6-2 run in the first three minutes, capped by a Sorrentine three, gave Vermont its first lead, 33-32. But after a turnover on the next possesion, Jason Thomas redeemed himself by getting the lead back with a jumper, and a minute or so later stole the ball, and took it the length of the court for a lay-in. An Ingram jumper completed the 9-0, and AU had a 41-33 lead. But Vermont wouldn't go away. Sorrentine hit a 3, was matched by Linas Lekavicius, and then Vermont's Ryan Schneider hit a 3 to cut the lead to three, one of the few big shots not by the big two, although Sorrentine had the assist.

Thomas then had another big sequence, with two layups, a defensive rebound, and an assist on a Lekavicius 3, bringing the lead back to 8 for AU. Then Coppenrath hit a layup, got fouled, hit the free throw, and on the next possession, Sorrentine hit a 3, and then a jumper on the next possession, and it's a three point game again with five minutes to play! At this point, the Vermont coach decided to start liberally using his timeouts, stretching the game forever.

5:03 - Timeout, Vermont.

4:22 - Timeout, Vermont.

Thomas hit another three with about 3 minutes to go, and then Vermont's Martin Klimes tried to take Linas's head off as he drove to the hoop. Flagrant, foul shots and the ball. Thomas hits one of two, they don't score on the ensuing possession, but at this point, it's intentional fouling time for Vermont. Matej Cresnik hits two with a little over a minute left, responded to by a surprising three by Vermont's Alex Jensen. AU 60, Vermont 54.

1:02 - Timeout, Vermont.

Ingram hits one of two free throws. Coppenrath hits a layup. AU 61, Vermont 56.

0:51 - Timeout, Vermont.

Lekavicius misses two free throws. Coppenrath misses a layup. Rebound, Thomas. AU timeout. Lekavicius hits a layup. Sorrentine hits a jumper. Raimondas Petrauskas hits two free throws. Sorrentine hits a three. AU 65, Vermont 61, 15 seconds to go.

Foul of Petrauskas, hits one of two free throws. 66-61. Coppenrath hits an unlikely three! 66-64.

0:03 - Timeout, Vermont.

Matej inbounding. He can't get it in. Timeout, AU. Matej again. Gets it to Thomas, fouled. Misses the first off the front rim. Hits the second. Desperation inbounds pass....intercepted by Thomas! AU wins! AU Wins! Stop rushing the court, morons, it's December 4!

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