Burlington, VT (Sports Network) - Marqus Blakely scored 24 points, grabbed 18 rebounds and handed out five assists, leading Vermont back to the NCAA Tournament with an 83-70 victory over Boston University in the championship game of the America East Tournament.
Nick Vier added 15 points and Maurice Joseph chipped in 13 for Vermont (25-9), which captured its fourth AEC championship and first since a three-year run from 2003-05. The Catamounts' last NCAA Tournament appearance was a memorable one in 2005, as they upset Syracuse in the first round before falling to Michigan State.
Corey Lowe scored 24 points to lead Boston University (19-13), which knocked off top-seeded Stony Brook last Sunday in the semifinals and was making its first visit to the AEC title game since a 56-55 loss to Vermont in 2003. The Terriers last won the tournament in 2002.
John Holland, BU's leading scorer at 19.3 points per game, made just 3-of-11 shots and finished with only nine points. Jake O'Brien contributed 17 points in defeat.
Vermont led by 11 at the break and a bucket to open the second half stretched the margin to 13, but BU scored six straight at one point to trim a 12-point deficit in half and drew within 54-53 with 11 minutes left on a three-pointer by Lowe.
The Terriers then had two possessions with a chance to take the lead and failed to convert either time, and Vermont capitalized with a layup by Evan Fjeld and a three-pointer by Joseph for a six-point edge with just under eight minutes to play.
Blakely hit a pair from the stripe to extend the lead to 61-53, but BU trimmed the margin back to four at 62-58 before going cold again. Vier and Garvey Young connected on three-pointers to fuel a 9-2 run that gave Vermont a 71-60 lead with 2 1/2 minutes remaining.
The Terriers never threatened again.
Vermont extended a three-point edge with a run of seven straight points midway through the opening half, as Vier hit a three-pointer and Blakely scored the next four for a 24-14 lead.
The Terriers got as close as six a couple of times before Vermont took a 42-31 advantage to the intermission after a Blakely bucket in the lane just before the buzzer.
Blakely, the conference's Player of the Year each of the two previous seasons, recorded his 17th double-double of the campaign...Fjeld, playing just days after his mother died of cancer, scored nine for Vermont...The Catamounts shot 57.8 percent overall and connected on 8-of-14 three-point tries, led by Vier's 4-for-4 effort from beyond the arc...The Terriers hit 38.2 percent from the field and made 10-of-23 from three-point range...BU has won five AEC tourney crowns, the most of any current member of the league. Northeastern, currently a member of the CAA, won seven AEC titles.