Men’s hoop splits games on the road
NEW LONDON, Conn. — The Middlebury College men’s basketball team split its first two NESCAC contests on the road in Connecticut this past weekend, coming close to sweeping the games. On Friday, the Panthers (7-7, 1-1 NESCAC) topped Wesleyan, 86-76, and on Saturday, Connecticut College edged them, 82-81.
Middlebury will host league foes Tufts on Friday at 7 p.m. and Bates on Saturday at 3 p.m.
Middlebury closed this past Friday’s NESCAC opener on a 16-5 run over the final 3:35, including converting 11-12 free throws, in its 10-point victory over Wesleyan.
The Cardinals took a quick 14-2 lead, but the Panthers tied the game at 30-30 before Wesleyan scored the final seven points of the first half.
The second half saw 10 ties and five lead changes. Middlebury turned the seven-point halftime deficit into a 39-39 contest with a 9-2 run, highlighted by transition layups from Matt Daley and Jack Daly. Then neither team managed more than a five-point lead over the next 13:35.
The hosts took the lead for the final time on a three-pointer by Joe Edmonds for a 71-70 edge with 3:35 left, but the Panthers started the game-deciding run on their next possession with two Daly charity tosses. With the Cardinals forced to foul in the final minutes, Middlebury cashed in on its free-throw attempts for the victory.
Matt St. Amour led five Panthers in double figures with 18 points on 6 for 11 shooting, including a trio of threes, to go along with seven rebounds and a career-best five steals. Hilel Dahleh added a season-high 16 points, including six-for-six at the line, while Eric McCord and Jake Brown both scored 14 points. Daly added 12 points and eight boards, and Brown added seven assists. The Panthers hit 18 of 28 from the floor and 18 of 21 from the line in the second half.
B.J. Davis led four players in double figures for the Cardinals with 18 points, and Edmonds scored 17.
On Saturday, missed free throws in the final minute proved costly for the Panthers as the Camels (9-3, 2-0 NESCAC) emerged with the 82-81 victory.
Connecticut controlled most of the first half, but Daley scored six points in a late Panther run that cut a 16-point Camel lead to 46-38 at the break.
Once the second half began, Middlebury slowly narrowed the gap. A 29-16 run over 11 minutes eventually gave the Panthers a 75-72 lead, when St. Amour and Adisa Majors hit consecutive field goals. The Camels regained the lead on a lay-up by Tyler Rowe with 2:45 left in the game, but Daley scored five seconds later to put Middlebury back in front.
The Panthers took their final lead of the game at 81-80, when Brown sank one of two free throws and broke the game’s 12th tie with 59 seconds left. Middlebury had a chance to add to its lead, but missed the front end of a one-and-one with 28 seconds left.
Then, on their final possession, the Camels isolated Rowe, and he banked in the runner that proved to be the difference.
Middlebury’s last chance came on a runner by Brown in the paint that rimmed out, and the Camels corralled the rebound in a scramble.
St. Amour led all players with 23 points, making seven of 12 from the floor with four three-pointers. Daley posted 16 points and 12 rebounds, while Zach Baines came off of the bench to contribute 12 points. Brown led all players with seven assists.
Lee Messier scored 19 points off of the bench to lead the Camels, while Rowe added 13 points.