DAYTON, Ohio — It’s been seven years since Vermont’s signature win in school history.
The Catamounts think it’s about time for another.
North Carolina, are you paying attention?
Freshman Four McGlynn came off the bench to score 18 points and Vermont grabbed an early lead and hung on to beat Lamar 71-59 on Wednesday night in a first-round NCAA Tournament game.
Matt Glass added 11 points, Sandro Carissimo 10 and Brian Voelkel had 12 rebounds to help the Catamounts earn a spot against the top-seeded Tar Heels on Friday in Greensboro, N.C.
Their only previous NCAA Tournament win was a stunning 60-57 upset of fourth-seeded
Syracuse by the 13th-seeded Catamounts in the first round of the 2005 tournament.
“The Syracuse game was a huge win for Vermont and the community,” Voelkel said. “Obviously, we’re going to come into North Carolina with a lot of confidence and hopefully we can pull off another upset and give the people of Burlington something to cheer about.”
The Catamounts (24-11) shot 50 percent from the field.
But the America East Tournament champions will be severely tested down where the skies are Carolina Blue.
“Obviously, North Carolina is one of the best teams in the country,” first-year Catamounts coach John Becker said. “They’ve got a roster of future NBA stars. We’re just going to do what we do – continue to play our brand of basketball.”
McGlynn, the only player in all of Division I to lead his team in scoring (12.0) without starting a game and yet playing in every contest, provided punch to Vermont’s offense.
He entered in the first half and immediately ignited a 13-0 rally that gave the Catamounts a lead that they never relinquished.
“It was my first NCAA Tournament game. I thought I played pretty well,” McGlynn said after hitting 5 of 9 shots from the field including 3 of 5 3-pointers and adding 5 of 6 free throws.
Vermont’s ability to hang on to a lead has been a rarity at University of Dayton Arena. Both Mississippi Valley State and Iona built big leads and then blew them in first-night losses to Western Kentucky and Brigham Young University, respectively.
Devon Lamb and Mike James each had 16 points for Lamar (23-12), which had won six in a row since first-year coach Pat Knight ripped his seniors after a loss in late February. He said they were “stealing money being on scholarship” and that his players had problems “off the court, on the court, classroom, drugs.”
But after the NCAA loss, Knight fought back tears as he spoke about players who he said would turn the Lamar program around.
“It’s obvious. ... I think these guys have done a heck of a job. If people disagree, they’re morons,” he said, sounding a lot like his father, Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight. “They’re down right now. Losing hurts. But what a ride. I’ll be talking about them until the day I die, these guys.”