Darren Payen to play in America East semis
Darren Payen of Milford and the University of Vermont men’s basketball team will host New Hampshire in the America East Conference semifinals at Patrick Gym in Burlington tonight at 7 p.m.
Second-seeded Stony Brook entertains third-seeded Albany in the other semifinal at 7:30 p.m.
Both games will air on ESPN3 and WatchESPN.
The two winners will advance to the title game next Saturday, March 11, at 11 a.m.
The game will be played at the highest remaining seed and be televised nationally on ESPN2.
The Catamounts are 27-5 overall, 16-0 in conference play, and have won 19 straight games.
New Hampshire is 20-11 and 10-6 in conference.
Payen was named the Sixth Man of the Year when Vermont swept all five major men's basketball awards, after completing just the third unbeaten regular-season in conference history.
Trae Bell-Haynes led the selections as he was chosen the Kevin Roberson Player of the Year.
Anthony Lamb was a unanimous selection as Rookie of the Year.
Dre Wills took home Defensive Player of the Year recognition.
Vermont's head coach John Becker was unanimously chosen the league's Coach of the Year.
A red-shirt senior, Payen averaged 7.1 points, 2.4 rebounds while shooting 71 percent from the floor in just 11.9 minutes per game.
A 6-foot-8 forward, Payen upped his averages to 8.3 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.1 blocks and 77 percent shooting in 14.3 minutes during conference play.
“The guys know what’s at stake. I expect to see a focus, a readiness to play right away,” Becker said as reported in the Burlington Free Press.
“Now it’s the four best teams in the league playing — the teams we thought we’d see. Now it is starting to get closer and now we will really find out how good we are in the next week.”
In the quarterfinals, UVM defeated Maine 86-41.
Lamb scored 23 points, making a program record 10 straight field goals.
Payen was 5-for-5 from the floor and finished with 12 points.
Payen came to Vermont after two seasons at Hofstra University, where he played in 53 games over two seasons with the Pride.
He played in all 33 games as a sophomore and ranked third on the team in blocked shots (15).
Payen played scholastically at Foran High and then Hamden Hall Country Day School.
He led Hamden to the Fairchester League regular-season and tournament championship as a senior and the NEPSAC Class C Championship as a junior.
He was named the NEPSAC Class C Player of the Year as a junior and earned a spot on the New Haven Register All-Area team twice and was the MVP of the JCC Schoolboy Classic in April 2012.
After sitting out the 2014-15 season due to NCAA transfer rules, Payen saw action in all 37 games and made 25 starts in 2015-16.
He scored in double figures for the first time as a Catamount with 14 points in the home opener against Quinnipiac.
He grabbed nine rebounds in consecutive games against Niagara and Buffalo during the Hall of Fame Tip-Off.
Payen posted a double-double with season highs of 18 points and 13 rebounds against Maine.
He scored at least 10 points in nine games.