The University of Vermont men’s basketball team hasn’t had many three-game America East losing streaks during coach Mike Lonergan’s tenure. Three, to be exact. The first was in 2006, Lonergan’s first season. Another was in 2008. The third time is now.
And this one seemingly came out of nowhere. Before successive defeats to Stony Brook, Binghamton and New Hampshire, the Catamounts had won seven straight games and 12 out of 13, they blew out America East preseason favorite Boston University, and they led the nation in road victories.
Basketball is a fickle game.
“I knew we’d stumble a little this season,” Lonergan said. “I just didn’t think we’d lose three in a row.”
Lonergan said Friday he doesn’t see a need to chew out his players. Or panic.
Poor foul shooting was the main culprit of a 65-60 home loss to Stony Brook and a 73-67 setback at Binghamton.
Wednesday’s 75-56 loss at New Hampshire was a perfect storm: UNH hitting 11 of 18 3-pointers against Vermont’s lax perimeter defense and Marqus Blakey having a rare off night.
“The first two losses (against Stony Brook and Binghamton) were a direct result of free-throw shooting. We didn’t play our best, but we left 12-15 points on the line,” Lonergan said. “(Against UNH), we got off to a good start and we let their best players beat us. There guards each had 21 and our game plan was to control them. And Marqus (Blakely) had a rough game; he had eight turnovers and no assists. We are not a good team unless he is playing at a high level which he usually does. We had an awful lot of turnovers and we got outplayed in a lot of positions.”
UVM junior guard Joey Accaoui said, after watching film, it was evident the team’s energy level had tapered from where it was when it was winning.
He also said the team’s recent results have served as, to put it in his exact words — “a punch in the face.”
The Catamounts had a similar experience early this season when they dropped consecutive games to Providence, Drexel and Cornell. Then they won 12 of their next 13 games.
“I think we bounced back pretty well,” Accaoui said. “We have a mature group of guys and I think we are going to handle this well.”
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