BURLINGTON, Vt. - The Saint Michael's College men's basketball team finished off its preseason slate with an exhibition game at Division I University of Vermont on Saturday at Patrick Gymnasium, losing by a 102-53 final. The Purple Knights, who returned only one player who was averaging as many as 18.0 minutes per contest during his career, took on a Catamount team that qualified for the NCAA Division I Tournament last winter after winning the America East Tournament.
Junior Levi Holmes III (East Brunswick, N.J./Rutgers Prep) scored a game-high 20 points for the Purple and Gold, shooting 3-for-7 on three-pointers and 5-of-6 on free throws while adding three steals. Sophomore Thomas Jackson III (Middletown, Conn./Holderness School) shot 2-of-3 from three and 3-of-4 on freebies for 11 points, and senior Colin Richey (Upton, Mass./Choate Rosemary Hall) had three assists.
Six Catamounts scored in double figures, with redshirt junior Payton Henson scored a team-best 17 to go along with seven rebounds and four assists. Four others had 12, including redshirt first-year Ben Shungu, who added six boards and five assists.
First-year Stef Smith's three made it 5-0 57 seconds into the game before Holmes buried a step-back triple at 18:48, but Smith's trey 1:01 later kicked off a 5-0 run, and the Catamounts led 10-3. Junior Derek Cheatom (Buffalo, N.Y./The Park School of Buffalo) knocked down a jumper off of a Jackson pass to cut the deficit to five, but Vermont countered with 12 of the next 14 points to forge ahead by 15. Holmes scored his team's next six points, including converting a left-handed baseline lay-up off Richey's backdoor pass at 12:51 and burying a corner three at 7:51.
Holmes, junior Winston Jones II (Valley Stream, N.Y./Valley Stream Central) and first-year Walker Storey (Shelburne, Vt./Champlain Valley Union) all connected on triples in the final 6:46 of the stanza, including Jones, who has hit two regular-season treys during his career, knocking one down from the right corner. Sophomore Eli DiGrande's (Essex Junction, Vt./Essex) putback just before the buzzer produced a 48-24 halftime margin. Saint Michael's shot 5-of-11 from three-point range in the opening 20 minutes while holding an 8-7 edge in second-chance points.
The Purple Knights put together a pair of scoring spurts during the second half, first utilizing a 10-8 stretch over a 3:16 span that ended at 10:40. Beyond two free throws from Holmes and one by Richey, Jackson buried a three off of Richey's cross-court pass, Cheatom went in alone for a breakaway dunk, and first-year Jason Heter (Andover, N.J./Newton) scored in close after junior Jaylen Hall's (Chicago, Ill./Lincoln Park/Richard J. Daley) pass from the top of the arc.
A 13-6 jaunt was capped by the time 5:24 remained. Sophomore Stephen Laffin (West Hartford, Conn./Northwest Catholic) knocked down a corner three off of redshirt sophomore Stan Foster's (Rochester, N.Y./Avon Old Farms School) pass, Holmes went in for a driving lay-up, and Jackson picked off a pass before weaving through four Catamounts for a lay-in and a free throw. Richey later knocked down a triple off of Jackson's kick. In the final 2:49, Jackson pulled up for a transition three before sophomore Jordan Guzman (Staten Island, N.Y./Xaverian) hit a long three from beyond the top of the arc at the buzzer.
Saint Michael's opens its regular season next Saturday against Mercy (N.Y.) College at 6 p.m. during Saint Thomas Aquinas (N.Y.) College's Spartan Invitational.