With 2:22 left in the first half, Vermont guard T.J. Sorrentine hit an open 3-pointer to bring his team within two points, then Michigan coach Tommy Amaker called timeout and let loose with a rare on-court tirade.
The Wolverines responded with a 20-0 run over the next six minutes of play, en route to a 75-62 win Saturday.
Freshman Dommanic Ingerson led a balanced Michigan attack with 13 points, but it was Ingerson”s defensive lapse following his NBA-length 3-pointer that prompted Amaker to raise his volume.
“He made a great shot and a great offensive play, but the game doesn”t stop,” Amaker said. “He”s gotten better, but I think we are going to continue to see some of those lapses out of him.”
Said Ingerson: “I didn”t know who I was guarding. I have to stay focused.”
Once Amaker made his point, Ingerson and the rest of the Wolverines took charge on defense, forcing the Catamounts to miss 10 straight shots. Sorrentine”s layup finally ended the drought with 16:11 left in regulation.
“I thought at the start of the second half it was men against the boys,” Vermont coach Tom Brennan said. “Michigan was just awesome. I was very impressed with Michigan because I was so impressed with how we played.”
But Michigan was not going to simply ride into the sunset with an easy victory. Vermont came to life midway through the second half, using an 11-2 run to cut the lead to nine points with 8:29 to play.
“We might have lost focus, let up a little bit,” Michigan”s Bernard Robinson said.
But the Wolverines” starting backcourt of Avery Queen and Leon Jones responded with back-to-back 3-pointers to extend the lead to 66-51. After that, the Catamounts (8-1 America East, 15-5 overall) would never get closer than nine points.
Michigan (3-4 Big Ten, 8-9 overall) finished with six players (LaVell Blanchard, Chris Young, Ingerson, Robinson, Jones and Queen) in double figures for the first time this season.
Despite Ingerson”s very public defensive letdown, the Wolverines” freshmen had one of their best games of the year. Ingerson combined with Chuck Bailey for 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting.
Blanchard, the Wolverines” leading scorer this season, was limited to just 19 minutes by foul trouble, but still scored 12 points and pulled down five rebounds
Trevor Gaines, who hails from nearby Farmington Hills, led Vermont with 23 points (including six put-backs) and 10 boards.
“I was so happy for Trevor to be able to come home and play well,” Brennan said. “I love him to death, and he”s the reason we came out here.”
Sorrentine added 18 points, including 12 from behind the arc for the Catamounts.