Men’s hoop drops tough road games

OWENS MILLS, Md. — The Middlebury College men’s basketball team dropped its first two games of the season against tough competition at the Stevenson College Hoopsville Classic this past Saturday and Sunday. The 3-2 Panthers were ranked No. 18 in NCAA Division III before the losses. They return to action on Dec. 1 at RPI.
On this past Saturday, the Panthers fell, 80-69 to host Stevenson in the Hoopsville Classic. Stevenson (2-1 after a 70-69 loss to Birmingham Southern on Sunday) scored 29 points on 25 Panther turnovers.
Middlebury trailed by eight midway through the first half before a bucket by Jack Roberts and threes from Jake Brown and Joey Kizel helped forge a 24-24 tie. But Stevenson came back to take a 36-32 lead into the halftime break.
The Mustangs led by 10 in the second half before back-to-back threes from Hunter Merryman and Brown made it 47-43 with 14:43 remaining. Stevenson maintained a point of up to nine for most of the half, but the Panthers cut it to three with 2:17 remaining on a lay-up from Kizel. The Mustangs answered with an 8-0 run for the 80-69 victory.
Merryman paced the Panthers with 21 points and seven rebounds, including five hoops from three-point range. Brown netted 14 with five assists, while Jake Nidenberg added 10 points and five boards. Kizel finished with 12 points, four assists and six steals. Alfonzo Hawkins led Stevenson with 17 points, Christian Roberts scored 13, while Tyrus Costly netted 10.
On Sunday, No. 10 St. Mary’s edged Middlebury, 81-78 in overtime. Kizel, who hit a buzzer-beating three to send it to overtime, finished with 26 points and earned all-tournament honors.
The Panthers, who made nine of 22 attempts from behind the arc (9-22), opened up the game with a pair of threes by Nate Bullock and one from Kizel on the way to a 14-6 lead at 14:45. The Panthers extended their advantage to 27-17 on a Connor Huff jumper at 8:51 before the Seahawks countered with a 14-4 run to tie the game at 31-31 with less than two minutes to play in the half. A Kizel three then gave Middlebury a 34-31 lead at the break.
Middlebury extended its lead to 39-31 to open the second, highlighted by a three from Merryman. The Seahawks (2-1) answered with a 12-2 run capped by a dunk and made free throw by Gavan Scanlan to take a 43-41 lead at 15:35. The teams exchanged leads six times in the next 12 minutes before St. Mary’s built a 68-63 advantage with 1:45 left in regulation on a Kyle Wise lay-up.
A traditional three-point play by Kizel then cut the deficit to 68-66 at 1:28. With 13 seconds left, a pair of free throws by St. Mary’s Nick Laguerre gave the Seahawks a 71-68 lead, setting up Kizel’s buzzer-beating three, sending the game into overtime.
With Middlebury trailing, 73-71 in the extra-session, Matt St. Amour knocked down a three off a feed from Kizel and later followed with a pair of free throws for a 76-73 lead at 3:30. A Wise lay-up combined with a bucket by Troy Spurrier gave the Seahawks a 77-76 advantage at 1:41. Middlebury answered with a Nidenberg hoop at 1:28 to retake the lead.
With just under a minute to play, St. Mary’s Donn Hill knocked down a pair from the stripe to make it 79-78. A Panther turnover forced Middlebury to foul Wise, who hit both free throws for a 81-78 advantage with 31 seconds remaining, and the Panthers misfired on two threes as time wound down.
Kizel finished with game-highs of 26 points and six assists and three steals. Nidenberg added a dozen points off the bench as he and Merryman (nine points) both grabbed eight rebounds.
Laguerre led St. Mary’s with 22 points and four assists, while Hill added 18. For the game, the Seahawks shot 30-56 from the field, but 3-14 from behind the arc.

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