BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) -- What an exit for Vermont coach Tom
The Catamounts made the NCAA Tournament for the third straight
year Saturday, beating Northeastern 80-57 for the America East
championship behind 37 points from Taylor Coppenrath. Brennan announced at the beginning of the season that his 19th
year leading Vermont would be his last. He went out in style in his
last home game. "I could have never believed it could have gotten to this. What
has happened here is beyond belief," Brennan said. "When we did
it the first time I said, 'Man, this is neat.' When we did it the
second time I thought, 'Man, this is unbelievable.' The third time,
God almighty, how does this keep happening. Man, I don't know,"
Brennan said. Vermont (24-6) won the championship by containing Northeastern
star Jose Juan Berea, limiting him to 14 points before he left the
game early in the second half with a twisted ankle. Adrian Martinez
added 11 points for Northeastern (21-9). Northeastern coach Ron Everhart was unhappy with his team's
play. "I don't think we converted well," Everhart said. "We missed
some easy shots. When you do that against a team like Vermont, it
can get ugly in a hurry." For Coppenrath, the three-time America East player of the year
and second-leading scorer in the nation, it was the fourth time
this season he has scored 37 points. The surprise for the Catamounts was sophomore Martin Klimes,
from the Czech Republic, who scored 15 points in the first half.
T.J. Sorrentine added 11. "When they double Taylor, somebody is going to be open,"
Klimes said. "Today, I got a lot of easy hoops under the basket. I
had a really good time. Putting 'em in wasn't really difficult." Klimes' 15 helped Vermont take a 48-34 halftime lead.
Northeastern scored the first basket of the second half to get
within 12. But that was as close as it got. The Huskies' shot at a comeback was further damaged when Berea
got hurt after coming down on a Vermont player's foot. Berea
pounded the floor in frustration. Top-seeded Vermont shot 54.7 percent from the floor and 41.2
percent from the 3-point line, while second-seeded Northeastern
shot 36.2 percent from the floor and 36 percent from the 3-point
line. Vermont advanced to the tournament finals with victories last
weekend over the University of Maryland-Baltimore County and
Binghamton. Northeastern defeated Stony Brook and Maine. Northeastern has been the America East champion a record seven
times, most recently in 1991. Everhart said his team was worthy of a NIT Tournament bid. "We're a lot better team than we showed today," he said. "I'm
very disappointed we weren't prepared to play better. We had an
opportunity, but we didn't get it done."