Women’s hoop to host quarterfinal

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury College women’s basketball team this past weekend split its two final regular season NESCAC games, an effort good enough to nail down the No. 4 seed for the league’s postseason and earn the right to host a quarterfinal game this Saturday. The Panthers also won a non-league game at Plattsburgh on Tuesday.
The Panthers, 17-7 overall and 6-4 in league play, will meet No. 5 Colby (12-11, 4-6 NESCAC) at 4 p.m. this Saturday. The game is a rematch of a Feb. 3 clash between the two teams in Middlebury in which the Panthers prevailed, 64-49, by outscoring the Mules in overtime, 17-2, after Colby had rallied from a late deficit to tie the game.
Tickets for the game are being sold in a package with the 2 p.m. men’s basketball quarterfinal for $5 for adults and $2 for students and seniors. They are available through the college: Readers are advised to go online to athletics.middlebury.edu, find the women’s basketball article, and click on the link. If any tickets remain, they will be sold at the door beginning at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
Middlebury has not hosted a NESCAC quarterfinal since 2013, when the Panthers defeated Bates, and their winning NESCAC regular season is the program’s first since the 2001-2002 campaign. 
Amherst (24-0, 10-0), Tufts (22-1, 9-1) and Bowdoin (20-3, 8-2) are the top three seeds. The highest remaining seed after this weekend’s quarterfinal round will host the NESCAC final four on Feb. 25 and 26.
The Panthers clinched their winning league season by staving off host Trinity’s rally on this past Saturday in a 65-59 victory.
Trinity (12-10, 3-7 NESCAC) trailed by 47-37 entering the fourth quarter, but used a pair of 8-3 runs to tie the game at 55-55 on a Peace Kabari layup with 3:33 to go in regulation.
The Panthers answered with back-to-back baskets by Colleen Caveney and Betsy Knox to retake the lead, and iced the win by hitting six straight free throws in the final 35 seconds.
Sarah Kaufman paced Middlebury with 17 points, including hitting three times from behind the arc, while adding a game-high six assists. Catherine Harrison contributed 14 points and 14 rebounds, her sixth double-double of the season, while Knox hit seven or 11 shots from the floor to net 15 points. Caveney added nine points, and Alex Huffman contributed four steals. Kabari finished with 21 points for Trinity.
On Friday, host Amherst went on a 24-2 second-quarter surge to lead by 35-9 at halftime in a 67-33 victory over the Panthers.
Kira Waldman’s seven points led the Panthers, while Harrison and Lily Kuntz followed with six points apiece. Harrison added a team-best seven rebounds and blocked two shots.
Amherst held Middlebury to 23 percent shooting and forced 17 turnovers. Meredith Doswell (18 points) and Ali Doswell (15 points and five assists) sparked undefeated Amherst, the No. 1 team in NCAA Division III.
On Tuesday the Panthers earned a 22-7 edge in the third quarter in a 59-54 win at Plattsburgh (10-13).
Middlebury led by 45-34 after three periods, but the Cardinals crept to within 56-53 with about two minutes to go. A three-pointer by Panther Lily Kuntz with 57 seconds left helped seal the win.
Maya Davis and Caveney paced the Panthers with 12 points apiece, while Waldman finished with 11 points and eight rebounds. Huffman tied Waldman with eight rebounds to go along with six assists. Huffman also added three steals and blocked two shots. Harrison and Kuntz  each contributed nine points and six rebounds.

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