Middlebury men’s hoops opens 3-0

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury College men’s basketball team made it three straight wins to open the season by topping visiting Green Mountain College on Tuesday, 94-53. They were ranked No. 18  in the opening NCAA Division III poll and return to action in a tournament at Stevenson College this weekend.
That result followed the Panthers’ victory at Franklin & Marshall’s season-opening tournament over the weekend, which they accomplished by defeating Baruch, 96-89, in Saturday’s final after knocking off No. 21 Alvernia, 81-71, on Friday.
On Saturday, the Panthers led by as many 18 points in the first half against Baruch before hanging on for the seven-point win. Middlebury’s timely free throw shooting down the stretch sealed the win. Joey Kizel was named the tournament MVP, and Matt Daley made the All-Tournament team.
The Panthers jumped out to a 23-5 lead as Hunter Merryman, Matt St. Amour, Dylan Sinnickson and Nate Bullock each connected from behind the arc, but Baruch (1-1) cut it to 53-45 at the intermission.
In the second half Granville Gittens scored 19 of his game-high 34 points and grabbed nine of his game-high 14 rebounds. Sinnickson and Kizel accounted for 28 of Middlebury’s 44 second-half points.
Just inside the nine-minute mark, Gittens scored seven points and grabbed three rebounds in a 10-5 Baruch run. A Baruch three cut the Middlebury lead to 81-78.
After two free throws by Daley, another three made it 83-81 with just under four minutes left to play. A Daley free throw and lay-up gave Middlebury an 86-81 advantage before a Gittens putback made it 86-83. Kizel and Sinnickson answered with buckets for a 90-83 lead before Gittens hit a three-pointer at 1:16.
St. Amour hit a free throw at 0:37 for Middlebury. After Baruch hit two free throws at 0:29 to make it 91-88, the Bearcats fouled Middlebury on three straight possessions, and the Panthers went five for six from the line to nail down the win.
Sinnickson finished with 22 points and eight rebounds, while Kizel finished with team highs of 24 points and nine assists. Merryman scored 15, and Daley chipped in 11. The Panthers sank 10 of 23 from behind the arc.
On Friday, Daley recorded a game-high 24 points and 11 rebounds as the Panthers topped Alvernia by 10 in a game between teams that played in last year’s NCAA tournament. Middlebury pulled away in the final four minutes with a 15-5 run.
Daley scored 10 points in the first half as the Panthers took a 33-31 lead at the break. Middlebury opened in the second half with a 9-0 run, kicked off by a three from St. Amour and four points from Daley. The lead grew to 12 before the Crusaders pulled within two points with a 12-2 run. Kahlil Bennett scored eight points in that surge.
Middlebury then outscoring the Crusaders, 18-9, for a 66-55 lead with seven minutes left to play. Alvernia answered with a 9-0 run to cut the Panther lead to 66-64 at 4:23.
The lead grew to 73-66, but a Lamont Clark basket at 2:04 cut the lead to five. After Clark missed a free throw for a traditional three-point play, St. Amour connected on a long-distance three for a 76-68 lead with 1:33 left to play. The Panthers then hit five of six free throws down the stretch.
Kizel recorded 14 points and five assists. Jack Roberts (13 rebounds) and St. Amour netted 10 points apiece, while Merryman added 10 points off the bench. Bennett led the Crusaders with 22.
On Tuesday, 14 Panthers scored in a 94-53 win over Green Mountain (0-1) in the team’s home opener. 
Daley led the attack with 14 points, while Connor Huff netted 11. Jake Nidenberg scored 10, followed by 11 from St. Amour and eight apiece from Kizel and Merryman. Kizel dished out seven assists.
Terry Jones paced the Mountaineers with 12. Freshman and Middlebury Union High School graduate Tyler Provencher made his college debut with 17 minutes off the bench, sinking a three-pointer in his one-for-four performance and recording a rebound and two steals. 

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