Steidl, Vermont fall to Purdue in NCAA opener

Kurt Steidl's season ended a little more than a half earlier than did that of his teammates.

Steidl, a 6'6" senior forward from Ridgefield, suffered a knee injury late in the opening half of Vermont's first-round NCAA Tournament game against Purdue on Thursday night and did not return.

Without Steidl, the 13th-seeded Catamounts were unable to pull off the upset in the Midwest regional contest, falling to fourth-seed Purdue, 80-70, at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisc.

The loss stopped a 21-game winning streak for Vermont, which finished the season with a 29-6 record. The Catamounts had qualified automatically for the NCAA tourney by beating Albany in the America East conference championship game Saturday.

Steidl went down with a non-contact knee injury after he jumped out to defend a three-point attempt with just over two minutes left in the first half. A trainer worked on Steidl's leg for a short while before he was helped to the locker room.

"Thank you for all the texts and prayers," wrote Steidl on his Twitter account after the game. "I'll be okay no matter what happens. Finally fulfilled my dream [making the NCAA Tournament] and it's been an amazing ride!"

Steidl's sole basket in 10 minutes of first-half playing time came when he hit a three-pointer that gave Vermont a 32-28 lead with 3:42 left before halftime.

Purdue then scored nine of the next 13 points to go ahead, 37-36, at the break. Vermont was still within one, at 51-50, with 12:24 remaining in the game, but the Boilermakers stayed in front, eventually extending their lead to 76-65 on a three-pointer with 1:57 left.

Steidl, a former All-FCIAC and All-State player at Ridgefield High, ended the season averaging 7.9 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. He started all but one game and averaged a team-best 28.7 minutes per contest.

Over his four seasons at Vermont, Steidl averaged 8.4 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. He scored his 1,000th point earlier this season and finished his career with 1,146 points.