Lyndonville, VT - Facing a 17-point deficit midway through the second half of Saturday's North Atlantic Conference men's basketball game, Northern Vermont University-Lyndon rallied to within six points but was unable to get any closer, falling 78-68 to the University of Maine at Presque Isle. The Owls improve to 9-10 overall and 3-7 in NAC play, while the Hornets fall to 2-18 on the season and remain winless in nine conference starts.
UMPI got off to a fast start, junmping out to a 13-2 advantage less than four mintues into the contest. Lyndon responded with baskets from Kyle Cary (Selkirk, NY), Dylan Torello (Port St. Lucie, FL), and Damon Denteh (Jamaica, NY) to cut the deficit to five. Following a Griffin Guerrette three-pointer for the Owls, Kenan Hajdarevic (St. Johnsbury, VT) found Ricky Shuford (Prattville, AL) for layups on consecutive possessions to bring the Hornets to within 16-13. The Owls were able to maintain a single digit lead through the rest of the opening half and headed to the locker room with a 35-30 advantage.
The two teams battled on even terms in the early going of the second half. The Owls held a 41-37 advantage with just over 16 minutes to go when Guerrette converted a layup off of a Lyndon turnover to ignite a 19-6 run which was capped by a Quinn Mitchell three-pointer, giving UMPI its biggest lead at 60-43 with 10:48 to go. At that point the Hornets began to chip away, and when Luke Fredsell (Whitesboro, NY) found Shuford for a layup, the Hornets were within 70-64 with 1:23 to go. After a pair of Guerrette free throws, Fredsell again found Shuford, but that was as close as the Hornets would get.
Dix, the NAC's leading scorer, led UMPI with 28 points on 7/11 shooting, including 6/10 from beyond the three-point arc. Guerrette added 18 and Mitchell came off the bench to score 11. Wilburn Griffiths notched a double double with ten points and 16 rebounds. Shuford scored a season high 30 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to pace the Hornets. Cary also posted a double double with 15 points and 19 rebounds while Hajdarevic handed out a team best six assists.
As a team, UMPI connected on 27 of 66 (40.9%) shots, including 13 of 40 (32.5%) from long range. Lyndon struggled from the floor, making only 28 of 86 (32.6%) attempts, including only six of 28 (21.4%) from distance. The Hornets held a 54-48 rebounding advantage and forced 17 Owl turnovers while committing only 11 themselves.
The Hornets will make a Maine swing next weekend, traveling to Maine Maritime Academy and Husson University. Lyndon will open the swing with a 5:30 pm tip-off at MMA on Friday.