Middlebury men return to action, split pair of basketball contests

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury College men’s basketball team returned from its semester break and split two games, winning at home on Monday after dropping a road contest this past Saturday. The 6-6 Panthers begin their NESCAC schedule this weekend, when they will visit Wesleyan on Friday and Connecticut on Saturday.

On Monday, the Panthers erupted for 55 points in the first half in a 92-74 victory over Southern Vermont. The setback snapped the Mountaineers’ seven-game winning streak and dropped them to 8-3.

The Mountaineers took a 15-11 lead in the first 6:12, but the Panthers went on a 17-1 run over the next 4:10 to seize control. An inside hoop by Eric McCord and a Hilal Dahleh three-pointer triggered the surge, and the run ended on a three-point basket by Matt St. Amour that gave the Panthers a 28-18 lead.

Middlebury took its biggest first-half lead, 53-29, at 1:18, when St. Amour nailed his fifth three-pointer, and the Panthers led by 55-32 at the break after hitting eight of 12 treys. The Mountaineers came no closer than 14 points in the second half.

Middlebury had three players record double-doubles. St. Amour scored 24 points and snared a career-high 12 rebounds, adding seven assists. Forward Zach Baines had career bests with 11 points and 11 rebounds, to go along with two blocked shots. Jack Daly scored 15 points and dished out a career-high 10 assists, while Matt Daley added 16 points.

For Southern Vermont, DeShawn Hamlet led the way with 20 points, while Casey Hall posted 12 points and 10 rebounds.

On Saturday, host Endicott held off the Panthers, 82-76, thanks to a big second-half run and late free throws. The Panthers wiped out the Gulls’ 32-27 halftime lead and pulled ahead, 44-39, with 12:38 to go, but Endicott took charge with a 33-11 surge to lead by 67-50 at 4:44. Middlebury cut into the lead, but Endicott was solid from the line in the late going.

St. Amour made five three-pointers and scored a team-leading 21 points. Daly and Connor Huff chipped in 13 and 11 points, respectively. Daly led the team with nine rebounds to go along with four assists, while Jake Brown tied for game-high honors with six assists. Daley finished with eight points and eight boards.

Max Matroni led the 5-5 Gulls with 22 points and hit 16 of 18 free throws. As a team, the Gulls were 31 for 37 at the free throw line, including 23 for 29 in the second half, and three Gulls tallied at least 16 points. 

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