Can the real men’s basketball team please stand up?
After a competitive contest against Stanford at home on Friday, the Bulldogs took a step back with an 89-58 defeat against Vermont last night in Burlington, Vt. The game was tied at 10 with 14:51 left in the first half, but it was all Catamounts after that.
Captain and forward Ross Morin ’09 led the Elis with 13 points, while center Garrett Fiddler ’11 added 11.
After that tie, Vermont went on an 8-0 run to take a commanding lead that they would never surrender. The Bulldogs managed to hang around for a few more minutes, closing the gap to four with 11:48, before the Catamounts went on a 14-2 run to take away any thoughts of a close game.
“It was an ugly one tonight,” Morin said. “We didn’t play good basketball. Offensively, we lacked patience and never really got into our offense at any point tonight.”
The second half continued with more of the same as the Elis lost each half by almost the same number of points, 16 and 15 respectively. Leading the Vermont surge were Maurice Joseph and Colin McIntosh, who finished the game with 17 points each. McIntosh also had a game-high eight rebounds.
The blowout started with a man-to-man pressure defense that was leaky all night. Vermont shot a blistering 66.7 percent in the first half, as Bulldog defenders were unable to contain the opposition.
Morin added, “On defense we were a couple steps late all night. Give Vermont credit. They executed well tonight, they broke our D down and were able to get easy buckets.”
The frontcourt was largely a strength in the last game against Stanford, as the Bulldogs out-rebounded the Cardinal by 11 boards. But last night, it was the Catamounts who threw the Elis around, dominating the battle on the glass, 37-23.
This rebounding edge gave Vermont a huge advantage in shot attempts, contributing to the blow-out. The Bulldogs attempted only 47 shots in the game versus the 65 attempts for the Catamounts. While the Elis shot a very respectable percentage of 44.7 percent from the field then, they simply did not have the ball enough to score enough points to match Vermont.
“We didn’t come out with the energy or focus to be successful,” forward Travis Pinick ’09 said. “We rushed our offense and that led to turnovers.”
The Elis again struggled from behind the three-point line, shooting 3-for-11 on three’s for 27.3 percent. Against the Cardinal on Friday, the Bulldogs shot a paltry 26.7 percent. These difficulties did not contribute significantly to the defeat, however, since only about a fourth of the Elis’ shots came from three-point range on the game.
“It is not our strength,” Jones said. “We are not going to be a great three point shooting basketball team. I would expect our shooting percentage to get a little better, but I don’t expect it to drastically change.”
Ultimately, the blowout seems to point to a letdown by the team after the emotional season opener on Friday. Last weekend, the Bulldogs played before a sellout crowd of cheering fans, they might have lacked the same focus in last night’s game on the road against Vermont. Jones disputed that notion though.
“I didn’t think there was a letdown,” Jones said. “I wasn’t thinking about a letdown going into the game.”
The Elis will next fly cross-country to play at Portland this Friday. The journey to Oregon will be followed by another game three days later against the Oregon State Beavers, giving the Bulldogs their second Pac-10 test in as many weeks.