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‘Cats fall to Vermont, fail to clinch No. 3 seed

The good news is, UNH is in third place in America East with just two games left. The Wildcats have a chance to have another 19-win season for the second year in a row. As of now, they have 36 wins through two years, which is the best two-year campaign in school history.
The bad news is, those two games mean a whole lot. UNH could either be the third seed or fourth when the America East playoffs begin. If UNH is the third seed, they could draw Albany in the America East semifinal, a team they’ve beaten. If not, the ‘Cats could be forced to travel to Stony Brook, a team they’ve proven they can play with, but haven’t proven they can beat. Head coach Bill Herrion said that he doesn’t get caught up in looking toward potential matchups.
“I personally haven’t looked at anything,” Herrion said. “I know where we are of course, and I’m sure the players probably look. The one thing that is true is that winning takes care of everything.”
Unfortunately, the Wildcats were not able to beat Vermont on Wednesday night on the road. In front of a packed house in Burlington, the Wildcats went 6-27 from beyond the three-point line in a 73-67 loss. Trae Bell-Haynes led the Catamounts with 16 points, while Kurt Steidl chipped in with 13 points and six rebounds. The Wildcats, who played a strong game, were paced by Jacoby Armstrong, who scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
The loss moves the Wildcats into a third place tie with Vermont with one game remaining. Both teams have 10-5 conference records. The Catamounts travel to take on No. 1 ranked Stony Brook, while the Wildcats will host the last place UMBC Retrievers for Senior Day on Saturday at 12 p.m.
Heading into the game, the crowd was a concern for Herrion and the Wildcats and fans showed up in force. The building was packed and the students were raucous.
“This is one of the few places in the league where the crowd and the environment have an effect,” Herrion said. “It is always a great challenge to play in this environment and its important to handle the crowd.”
Despite the loss, the Wildcats are by no means in a bad spot. They have already clinched a home playoff game, regardless of playoff seeding, and recently returned Jacoby Armstrong two games ago from suspension.
“Before he got suspended, I thought Jacoby was playing very well,” Herrion said. “This is probably some of the most consistent basketball I’ve seen him play.”
It isn’t just Armstrong. The team truly hasn’t played it’s best yet, which should scare the rest of America East.
“We have won nine of our last 11 games,” Herrion said. “I truly believe we haven’t played our best yet. We can always improve, but this team has the potential to be very, very good.”
With UNH playing Saturday and hosting a home playoff game, the need for disruptive fans becomes more essential. Last season, Lundholm Gymnasium held over 1,800 screaming fans when UNH beat Hartford in overtime to advance to the America East semifinal. Now, the Wildcats feel that they have a more mature team and a better chance to make a run towards an NCAA tournament bid.
“We are a legitimate program in the America East,” Herrion said. “We aren’t an underdog. We control our own destiny. I would love to see our students come out and support our guys. They deserve it.”

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