Lyndonville, VT - The Northern Vermont University-Lyndon men's basketball team rallied from a 22-point first half deficit to defeat Norwich University, 103-97, in a non-conference matchup Tuesday evening in Stannard Gymnasium. The Hornets improve to 2-1 on the season. The game was the season opener for the Cadets. The win was also Lyndon's first over Norwich since becoming an NCAA Division III program in 2010.
Zach Falkenburg (Bridgeport, NY) got the Hornets started with a three-point goal on the game's first possession. After Donovan Lewis scored inside to get Norwich on the board, Jahleel Gabriel's (Springfield, MA) putback inside gave Lyndon a 5-2 advantage. At that point Norwich took control of the contest, riding the hot early hand of forward Kyle Booth and scoring on their first six possessions to build a 15-6 advantage just over three minutes into the game. Booth knocked down a pair of three pointers and had eight of the 15 points in the run.
After the Hornets cut the Norwich lead to 15-10 on baskets from Jahleel Gabriel (Springfield, MA) and Damon Denteh (Jamaica, NY), the Cadets ran off 11 more unanwered points, capped by another Booth three, to extend their lead to 26-10. A driving layup for a three-point play from Dylan Torello (Port St. Lucie, FL) interrupted the run, but Norwich continued to pull away and extended their lead to 45-23 following a three-pointer from Jesse Davis with 4:20 to go in the opening half.
Lyndon still trailed by 20 when freshman guard Bryan Thompson (New Britain, CT) came in the game and ignited a rally in the final two minutes of the half. A Falkenburg three and layups from Gabriel and Tim Hoar (Shelburne Falls, MA) brought Lyndon to within 49-36 at the half.
After the two teams traded baskets in the opening minutes of the second half, Norwich was able to gradually build their lead back to 18, 62-44, following a Davis three-pointer with 15:03 remaining.
This time it was the Hornets who found the hot hand. Lyndon scored on six of their next seven possessions to go on a 13-0 run, capped off when Peyton Olsen (Middleburgh, NY) found Gabriel for a dunk, to cut the Norwich lead to 62-57 with just under 12 minutes to go. Caleb Casinas then converted one of two free throws for the Cadets, but Falkenburg answered with a three, then Olsen converted a layup and Gabriel made one of two free throws. The Hornets had climbed all the way back to tie things at 63 with just over ten minutes to go.
Conaster's layup a minute later gave Norwich the lead again, but Luke Fredsell (Whitesboro, NY) answered with a three-pointer to give Lyndon its first lead since the early going. Davis then made four straight free throws to put the Cadets back up by three, but Tyrese Harris (Wiesbaden, Germany) found Fredsell open for another three to tie things again. Two free throws apiece from Booth and Dan Bertrand would then give Norwich a four-point advantage, but four straight points from Thompson would pull Lyndon even again at the 7:21 mark.
Following a Norwich turnover and timeout, Hoar's jumper gave Lyndon a lead that it would never relinquish. Following a defensive stop, Hoar found Dentah open for another three, and the Hornets were up five. Booth's layup cut it to three, but another Fredsell three increased the Hornet lead to 81-75 with 5:58 to go.
Norwich was able to get within two on a few occasions down the stretch, but each time Lyndon was able to answer. At the 1:18 mark, Casinas knocked down a 12 foot jumper and was fouled. After he converted the free throw, Norwich was within 94-92. On the next possesion, Falkenburg finished an acrobatic drive and was fouled for the three-point play, giving the Hornets back the five-point advantage.
On the next trip, Casinas scored on a putback, then he stole the inbounds pass and scored to bring the Cadets within one at 97-96 with 53 seconds remaining. Norwich was whistled for a techincal foul on the play, however, and Falkenburg made one of two to put the lead back to two. Falkenburg then drove and scored to make it a four-point game, and Lyndon held off Norwich on their final possessions to secure the win.
Falkenburg led Lyndon wiht a career high 29 points, 21 in the second half, and four assists. Gabriel notched a double double with 24 points and 15 rebounds. Fredsell scored 17 with five made three-point goals and handed out a game high eight assists, while Denteh chipped in 15 points and Hoar pulled down 12 rebounds.
Booth led the Cadets with 25 points while Davis came off the bench to score 20. Lewis and Casinas also reached double figures with 18 and 11 points respectively.
The Hornets will travel to NCAA Division I Bryant University for an exhibition game on Friday evening at 7:00 pm.