UVM Men’s Basketball obliterated UMBC 82-43 in the America East Finals game to win their fourth conference title in six years. This win officially guarantee’s UVM a spot in March Madness.
This year’s UVM team broke many historical records. According to ESPN, the Cats’ 39 point victory in the finals is the largest in a conference championship since 1989. Additionally, Vermont is the first team to win three straight tournament games by over 30 points each over the past 40 seasons. Their +110 point differential in the tourney is the largest by any team in a single year over the past 40 seasons.
“When you have leaders like the guys up here who are so humble and so hardworking and just defer, it makes it so easy to want to play with these guys and for these guys,” says UVM Men’s Basketball Coach John Becker. “It’s about this group of men. They are special and we should really appreciate them.”
Shungu was an integral part of the Catamounts offense. The hometown kid scored 19 points and grabbed six rebounds. After winning high school championships with Rice Memorial, Shungu is now winning conference titles with UVM. This was his last game ever played in Patrick Gym.
“It’s super surreal man,” says graduate student guard Shungu. “As soon as that final buzzer just went off, It’s like you’re just a kid again. Just running onto the court and just jumping up and down and just celebrating with your brothers.”
In the final minutes of play, Coach Becker took Shungu out of the game before taking out the rest of his starters. He says this was done to honor Shungu.
“He is the hometown hero,” Becker says. “The guys wanted it that way. We wanted him to get the standing ovation. There are not enough words to describe what he means for me and for this community”
Ryan Davis was another key player in the conference championship game. The reigning America East player of the year led the team in scoring with 20 points and knocked down two three-pointers.
“We’re a family,” says senior forward Ryan Davis. “And that gets us through any and all things. Anything that comes up [like] adversity, anxiety or pressure is alleviated by being a family. We do things together.”
This team has dealt with its fair share of adversity this season. UVM Coach John Becker got very emotional at the postgame press conference and dedicated this year’s title to his late father.
“You know for me personally, I lost my dad this year,” Becker says. “This one’s for him.”
UVM will learn their seeding and opponent in the NCAA Tournament on Sunday.