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Vermont continues its AEC mastery topping UMass Lowell 66-61 to secure NCAA Tournament bid

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — Shamir Bogues scored 15 points and TJ Long scored 14 points and top-seeded Vermont beat No. 2 seed UMass Lowell 66-61 on Saturday to clinch its third straight America East title and secure a trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Vermont (28-6) now has won six of the last eight AEC championships in the one-bid league. The Catamounts now have won nine consecutive AEC postseason tournament contests.

The day started with 15 No. 1 conference tournament seeds suffering defeats in their conference tourneys.

The Riverhawks (22-10) were searching for their first-ever NCAA Tournament bid in 11 seasons at the Division I level.

Aaron Deloney scored 12 points and Nick Fiorillo 11 for Vermont.

Cam Morris III scored 13 of his 17 points before intermission and grabbed 10 rebounds, Brayden O'Conner scored 14 and Ayinde Hikim 11 for the Riverhawks.

Trailing 62-57 with a minute left, UMass Lowell killed its chances by shooting 2 for 8 from the free-throw line.

Bogues and Long each survived foul trouble as Long picked up his fourth foul with 10:19 left and Bogues with 4:41 to go. Bogues made a pair of foul shots with 11:25 left to put Vermont ahead 44-43 and the Catamounts led the remainder.

Long and Fiorillo made 3-pointers in successive possessions for Vermont around a three-point play by UMass Lowell's O'Connor for a 50-46 lead with 9:53 remaining.

After a 3-for-15 shooting performance from 3-point range before the break, Vermont made 5 of 10 in the second and finished 8 for 25 (32%) overall.

The Catamounts built a 16-7 lead within the first five minutes before the Riverhawks methodically began to take control of the game's momentum playing through Morris on the offensive end.

Morris made a pair of foul shots that reduced the Riverhawks' deficit to 19-18 with 9:57 left before halftime. Neither team scored for 2 1/2 minutes until Morris made a layup to give UMass Lowell it's first lead since 2-0.

Morris made 4 for 5 before the break and the Riverhawks led 32-29 at halftime.

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