BURLINGTON, Vt. -- Taylor Coppenrath scored 39 points as Vermont topped New Hampshire, 81-67, in America East men's basketball Monday night at Patrick Gym.
The win gives the Catamounts the top seed in the upcoming America East Men's Basketball Championship and clinches at least a share of the conference regular season title. Vermont (20-5, 15-1 America East) can win its first-ever outright championship with a win in one of the last two games. UVM also now has won at least 20 games for four consecutive seasons after not posting a 20-victory campaign in its first 101 years of basketball.
"We were a little tired from the travel but I told the kids to reach down in since we have only two home games left," commented Vermont head coach Tom Brennan. "I thought we came out with great spirit and again the fans were tremendous. I really want to thank them for what they give us. This is a really special relationship we have with them and they gave us a great boost tonight. And once again, Taylor was magnificent."
The game was played in front of 3,266 fans, the 13th straight sellout at Patrick Gym and at times the Catamounts seemed winded after traveling 3,000 miles back to Vermont after playing Nevada on Saturday afternoon. The Wildcats (8-17, 4-12) made several runs at Vermont but they could not contain Coppenrath, the nation's third leading scorer heading into the contest.
Coppenrath went 16-for-23 from the floor and seven-for-11 from the foul line in equaling his season-high in scoring. He had 20 in the first half as Vermont jumped out to a 40-32 lead at the break. He also added a game-high 11 rebounds as Vermont outrebounded UNH, 40-26, with a 17-6 edge on the offensive boards.
For Vermont, T.J. Sorrentine also had another solid game with 21 points including five three-pointers. Germain Mopa Njila (Yaounde, Cameroon) chipped in with a career-high six assists as well as 10 rebounds while freshman Josh Duell came off the bench with seven points and seven boards.
New Hampshire had four players tally in double figures led by Ben Sturgill with 21 points. Mike Christensen added 14, Craig Walls scored 12 and Blagov Janev had 10. Chris Vetrano delivered a game-high nine assists. UNH shot 52% from the field in the game but made just two of ten three-point attempts.