Men’s basketball claims Tip-Off Tournament Classic title

WINDHAM, Conn. — The Middlebury College men’s basketball team captured the Eastern Connecticut State Tip-Off Tournament title to open its season this past weekend.
The 2-0 Panthers, ranked No. 24 in the preseason NCAA Division III poll, were set to host SUNY-New Paltz on Tuesday after the early deadline for this Thanksgiving edition of the Independent. Next up for Middlebury is a visit from RPI at 7 p.m. on Nov. 29.
In this past Saturday’s tourney final, the Panthers pulled away in the late going to defeat Eastern Connecticut, 83-74. The hosts led 63-62 with 6:41 left, but the Panthers took over from there.
Matt Folger put Middlebury in front for good with a lay-up, and Majors followed with another basket to make it a three-point difference. Back-to-back steals by Jake Brown and Matt St. Amour then sparked Middlebury on the defensive end and led to hoops, and the Panthers forced other Warrior turnovers as they pulled away.
When St. Amour and tournament MVP Zach Baines each hit from behind the three-point arc, Middlebury had its first double-digit lead at 78-67 with 1:32 to go and coasted home.
St. Amour led all players with 22 points, including a four-for-eight effort from three-point range, while Baines recorded 15 points and 12 boards. Majors added 14 points for the Panthers, and Brown netted 12 points with five assists. Brown and St. Amour joined Baines on the all-tournament team.
On Friday, the Panthers opened with a convincing 82-55 victory over Salem State.
Baines led a balanced attack that saw 11 Panthers score, particularly by dominating in the paint. Baines poured in a career-high 22 points, by hitting 10 of 13 shots to go along with six rebounds and three blocked shots. Majors scored 12 points, while Eric McCord had 10 points with five boards. Guard Jack Daly finished with nine points and game-best totals of 11 rebounds and five steals to go along with six assists.
The Panthers shot nearly 52 percent from the field, while limiting Salem State to just 29.6 percent. Middlebury won the rebounding battle, 47-39, and scored 46 points in the paint to just 14 for the Vikings.

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