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The University of Vermont men’s basketball team played its first competitive game with fans at Patrick Gym since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday night.
But it was far from competitive.
The Catamounts used a 15-0 run and Ryan Davis’ 17-point first half to cruise past Worcester Polytechnic Institute 81-48 in a nonconference contest in front of 2,004.
It was UVM’s first official game with Catamount faithful in attendance since its America East semifinal win over UMBC on March 10, 2020 — 616 days ago. UVM had played two exhibition contests at Patrick in tune-ups prior to the start of the 2021-22 season.
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Davis finished with a career-high 28 points on 13 of 21 shooting to go along with nine rebounds and three blocks. Kam Gibson (11 points), Justin Mazzulla (10 points) and Isaiah Powell (nine points, nine rebounds, four assists, three steals) also produced strong efforts for the Catamounts.
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While they just made 7 of 25 3-point attempts, the Catamounts shot 49.2% overall from the floor (32 of 65), out-rebounded WPI 44-25, including 14-6 on the offensive glass, and compiled 19 assists to just nine turnovers.
John Adams and John Lowther each had 14 points to pace WPI (3-1), a Division III program.
WPI’s early 7-3 lead evaporated on UVM’s 15-0 spurt kick-started by Gibson’s 3-pointer and driving finger roll. Davis converted a three-point play and Powell hit a corner 3 and step-back jumper in the paint to build an 18-7 margin with 13:27 left in the first half.
Davis scored 10 straight UVM points later in the period and Finn Sullivan rattled home a corner triple at the halftime buzzer for a 44-24 intermission advantage.
UVM’s second-half margin stretched to as many as 39 points.
The Catamounts (2-1) opened their season with a rousing 71-57 win at Northern Iowa before putting a scare into No. 21 Maryland in Saturday’s 67-58 defeat at College Park.