Panthers lose game on last-second free throws

COACH KELLY KRASCO and members of the Middlebury women’s basketball team celebrate Panther Augusta Dixon’s go-ahead jumper with 1.8 seconds to go during their home game vs. Skidmore on Saturday. Unfortunately, Skidmore sank three free throws with a tenth of a second left to claim the win. Independent photo/Steve James

SOPHOMORE PANTHER FORWARD Emily Downer hits the glass during the Middlebury College women’s basketball team’s 68-66 home loss to Skidmore on Saturday. The Panthers dropped to 2-1.
Independent photo/Steve James

MIDDLEBURY — Visiting Skidmore improved its record to 4-0 and dealt the Middlebury College women’s basketball team its first loss on Saturday, 68-66. The 2-1 Panthers were next set to visit Castleton on Tuesday after the early holiday deadline for this issue of the Independent, and then will be off until they host Lyndon this coming Tuesday.

Skidmore’s Clare Driscoll sank three free throws with 0.1 second left in regulation to give the Thoroughbreds the win in a game that saw several lead changes.

The Panthers broke on top, 12-6, but Skidmore put an extended surge together to lead, 21-16, at 7:02 of the second quarter. The Panthers answered with a 12-2 run over the next 3:12, capped by a Claire Miller layup, and eventually Middlebury took a 30-26 lead at the half.

Out of the break, the two sides traded small leads for much of the third quarter, and eventually Middlebury led, 50-45, after three periods.

Middlebury made it 52-45 on an Alexa Mustafaj jumper to open the fourth quarter, but a 10-4 Skidmore run keyed by a three-point play by Kate McCarney made it a nip-and-tuck game the rest of the way.

The Panthers took a 64-60 lead on two Miller free throws with 44 seconds left, but Skidmore scored the next five points, capped by a McCarney three, to make it 65-64. Panther Augusta Dixon sank a running jumper from the right side with 1.8 seconds left to put her team back on top.

But after a Thoroughbred timeout advanced the ball, Driscoll took the inbound pass, worked around a screen at the top of the key and was fouled attempting a three-pointer before knocking down the free throws to create the final score.

Mustafaj led Middlebury with 19 points to go along with six rebounds and three steals, while Miller had 15 points and a team-best eight boards. Dixon and Reagan McDonald each scored 10 points, and McDonald added a game-high six assists.

Skidmore’s Julia Blanck led all scorers with 23 points and 14 rebounds. McCarney scored 19 points, and Driscoll added 12.

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