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Bison reunite with former head coach in memorable night at University of Vermont

Gallaudet men's basketball guard Preston Kelly tries to pass the basketball around Vermont defender.

BURLINGTON, Vt. - The embrace and smiles at the end of the game between the head coaches capped a memorable night for the Gallaudet University men's basketball team in the Patrick Gymnasium on the University of Vermont campus.

Vermont coach John Becker and Gallaudet coach Kevin Kovacs, who both served as assistant coaches at GU from 1995-97 before Becker took over the helm from 1997-99, hugged at the end of Wednesday night's game where the host Catamounts won 93-44 over the Bison. 

"It was a fun night for me. I had a lot more emotions then I thought I would, even though I may not of showed it. It is hard to play against your friends and a place that I really care about. (They were) obviously overmatched today but I've been on the other side of it. I was glad when the game was over," said Becker, who also served as a Gallaudet assistant coach during the 1994-95 season when Kovacs was a player on the team.

Becker went through the handshake line, at the end of the game, signing thank you to the Bison players while also shaking each player, coach and staff member's hand. The two teams gathered at mid-court for a group photo afterwards.

"It was definitely an experience our players and coaches will never forget, especially when it was played against a former GU coach and we have a lot to be thankful for," said Kovacs, now in his fifth season leading the GU men's basketball program. "We appreciate John Becker and his Vermont basketball program and community for this experience. We wish him and his team the best!" 

Gallaudet (0-6) struggled on the big stage in the first half as it shot only 18.8 percent from the field (6 of 32) and only made one 3-pointer out of 16 attempts. Vermont (6-2) dominated as it shot over 50 percent and took a 51-13 lead into halftime. The Bison stayed within single digits up until 18-9 just under 12 minutes left in the first half. Vermont closed out the half on a 33-4 run. 

In the second half, GU shook off the first-half jitters and started to make shots. The Bison made 11 of 27 shots (40.7 percent) from the field and drained seven 3-pointers as they tallied 31 second-half points. 

Senior guard Noah Valencia (Riverside, Calif.) scored all of his team-high points in the second half as he knocked down three 3-pointers after he went 0-for-10 from the field in the first half. Sophomore Corey Smith (Miami, Fla.) added nine points off the bench while freshman Rory Lewis (Frederick, Md.) tallied two 3-pointers for six points in the second half.

Vermont was paced by center Daniel Giddens' 17-point game to go with eight rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block in 16 minutes played. Giddens' teammate Ryan Davis (10 rebounds) matched his 17-point game off the bench in 24 minutes played. The Catamounts had five players in double figures in the win.

This was Gallaudet's first game against a NCAA Division I opponent since Nov. 25, 2015, when the Bison played at Towson University and lost, 88-45.


  • GU received 21 points from its bench
  • Ten of Gallaudet's first-half points came in the paint
  • Vermont scored 28 points off 16 Bison turnovers
  • The Catamounts missed the opening shot of the game
  • Gallaudet scored the game's first basket on a Steve Valencia-Biskupiak (Riverside, Calif.) basket off an assist from Preston Kelly (Fishers, Ind.)
  • GU led for about a minute before Vermont hit a 3-pointer and held the lead from there
  • Becker is in his ninth year as the head coach at Vermont

Gallaudet will next travel to Winchester, Va., on Sunday, Dec. 1, to play at Shenandoah University (1-2) at 4 p.m.

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Gallaudet and Vermont teams gather for a large group photo at mid-court. Gallaudet University and University of Vermont men's basketball teams gather for a postgame group photo