SALT LAKE CITY, March 20 (UPI) -- Salim Stoudamire scored 18 points and Rick Anderson 13 Thursday as top-seeded Arizona coasted to an 80-51 victory over Vermont in the first round of the NCAA Tournament's West Region.
Arizona (26-3) advanced to play Gonzaga in the second round on Saturday.
A major snowstorm in Colorado stranded 16th-seeded Vermont in Denver and the Catamounts did not make it to Salt Lake City until late Wednesday night, about 13 hours before tipoff.
With little time to prepare, Vermont managed to remain competitive in its first NCAA Tournament appearance and trailed by just four points with 9:15 remaining in the opening half.
"We knew traveling the way we did that it wasnt going to be easy," Vermont Coach Tom Brennan said. "In the first 10 minutes, they battled so valiantly and I'm as proud as I can be."
The Wildcats then found their groove, outscoring Vermont, 22-9, for the remainder of the first half to take a 39-22 lead at intermission.
Taylor Coppenrath scored 18 points for Vermont (21-12), which got no closer than 13 points in the second half. Vermont shot just 31 percent from the floor.
The Catamounts received a warm ovation from fans when they took the floor and seemed happy to be enjoying what was left of the tournament experience that they missed on Wednesday.
"We just tried to come out loose, let our shots come to us," Coppenrath said. "In the second half, our legs kind of got tired, we couldn't get back on D. But it is tough to play the No. 1 seed when you're a 16 seed."
Stoudamire had 16 of his points in the first half, including a dunk and a three-pointer that increased the lead to 26-18 with 5:26 left.
The lead grew to 38-20 with 1:24 left in the half on three-pointers by Walton and Stoudamire in a 25-second span. Stoudamire had been bothered by sore knees, and the week off proved to be helpful.
"Last week the tendinitis in his knees was bad," Olson said. "The days off probably did more for him than anyone else."
The closest Vermont got in the second half was 41-28 before the Wildcats made it an even bigger rout with an 18-4 run.
"We just wanted to come out and get this game taken care of," Walton said. "We didn't want it to come down to the very end."
Brennan admitted that Olson likely held back in the second half after taking a huge lead.
"Everyone could see at the 15-minute mark that we were dead," Brennan said. (Olson) called off the troops a little bit, too. He's a classy guy."
Brennan, the colorful host of a radio talk show in Vermont, chose to look at the bright side of the unusual experience.
"We got a charter flight from Colorado Springs, so maybe it was worth it," Brennan joked.