The Dunkin’ Donuts Center didn’t quite have the deafening roars of the well-lubricated midday crowd that attended Saturday’s win over Rhode Island, but the building was certainly buzzing, as the Friars improved their non-conference record to 9-1, beating the Vermont Catamounts, 68-58. The story of this one is best told by the two players on the roster that have donned the Friar colors the longest, Nate Watson and A.J. Reeves. Watson and Reeves each logged twenty-four points on red hot shooting performances, and continue to serve as shining examples of why age is so important in the sport of college basketball.
This was a huge “get-right” game for Nate Watson, who had been held to single-figure scoring in the team’s previous two outings against Rhode Island and Texas Tech. The fifth-year center was a scorching 10 for 12 from the field while sinking 4 of 5 from the charity stripe. The big man also added in three boards and three assists. Unlike its predecessors, Vermont had no answer, nor a double-teamed solution, to stop the big man en-route to his stat stuffing performance.
On the wing, A.J. Reeves served as a spark plug, sinking six threes in ten attempts, while going eight for twelve from the field – matching his pal Watson for the game and team high of twenty-four points. Reeves also added in four assists and a steal to go along with his red-hot shooting. The senior’s confidence was on full display tonight, and helped the Friars in a big way. Overall, Watson and Reeves were responsible for forty-eight of the team’s sixty-eight total points – good for 70%.
A few other notable Friar performances from this one; fifth-year combo guard, Al Durham, logged nine points and five dimes, while still gripping the reigns of the point guard role in the absence of Jared Bynum (Foot). Noah Horchler, although going scoreless, grabbed ten rebounds, and continues to serve as the “glue-guy” of this veteran Friar team. Justin Minaya also produced twenty-seven valuable minutes, and had some timely defensive plays late in the second half.
This game was a “trap game” in every sense of the word. Slotted at 6:30PM on a Tuesday night following the toughest week of the non-conference schedule, this was one the Friars couldn’t afford to lose. The Catamounts certainly gave the Friars some scares, trimming the lead to single digits a handful of times in the second half, but the Friars were able to keep a comfortable enough lead to eventually stiff-arm their opponents into a ten-point defeat. Ed Cooley certainly has to be pleased with this one, as the Friars await their next opponent in Central Connecticut State, this Saturday at 2:00PM.