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Panther men’s hoop fighting for top playoff seed

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury College men’s basketball team will host two NESCAC foes this weekend with a chance to nail down a home quarterfinal playoff game on Feb. 18.
The Panthers, ranked No. 16 in NCAA Division III before three wins last week, improved to 18-3, 6-2 in league play with wins at Bowdoin and Colby last weekend.
This weekend, they host No. 11 Amherst (16-4 overall and tied with the Panthers for second in NESCAC at 6-2) on Friday at 7 p.m.. On Saturday, fourth-place Trinity (14-8, 5-3) visits at 3 p.m.
A win over the Bantams will clinch a finish of no worse than third place for the Panthers regardless of other results, but among the teams tied for fifth at 4-4 is Williams, which defeated the Panthers. If Williams should win twice and the Panthers lose twice, tie-breaking procedures could be complicated for the Nos. 3 and 4 seeds. Wesleyan and Hamilton are also 4-4. Tufts (17-5, 7-2) is alone in first with only a Friday home game with Williams left on its league docket.
On this past Saturday Middlebury won its fifth straight game, 82-52, at Bowdoin. Middlebury dominated the boards, 50-31, and was never seriously threatened after taking a 46-33 lead at the half. 
Matt St. Amour and Jake Brown scored 16 points apiece, and Brown added eight assists and St. Amour grabbed 10 boards. Eric McCord finished with 14 points and a career-high 12 rebounds, while Nick Tarantino netted 10 points and pulled down six rebounds. Jack Daly added 11 points, six assists and five boards. Tim Ahn paced Bowdoin with 16 points.
On Friday, the Panthers needed a late 18-7 run to pick up an 84-75 win at Colby (10-11, 1-7 NESCAC). St. Amour scored eight of his team-high 27 points in the final 5:24 to spark Middlebury down the stretch; he added nine rebounds and four assists.
Brown scored 15 points, while Daly scored 10 points, grabbed nine rebounds and dished out seven assists. McCord netted 10 points, and Nick Tarantino scored eight with six rebounds. Colby’s Patrick Stewart led all scorers with 29 points. The Panthers controlled the boards, 48-31.

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