February 2, 2009

The Middlebury College men's basketball team never trailed on their way to a 67-62 win over Williams at Pepin Gym on Saturday afternoon. With the victory, the Panthers extend their school-record winning streak to 14, while their Pepin Gym winning streak improves to nine in a row, dating back to last season's 96-59 win over Williams in the NESCAC Tournament. The win leaves Middlebury (18-2, 5-0) atop the NESCAC standings, while Williams (14-6, 4-1) suffers their first conference loss of the season.

The Panthers built an early 9-2 lead highlighted by threes from junior Tim Edwards (Greenwich, Conn.) and senior Kyle Dudley (Scarsdale, N.Y.) before the Ephs responded with a 7-0 run, knotting the game at nine apiece with 16:01 left in the first. With the game tied for the final time at 20-20 at the 7:50 mark, Middlebury closed out the first half on a 19-4 run. Senior Aaron Smith (W. Hartford, Conn.) led the charge, scoring eight of his 14 points during the run. A lay-up by rookie Ryan Sharry (Braintree, Mass.) at the buzzer gave the Panthers a 39-24 lead at intermission.

Middlebury maintained a double-digit lead through the early part of the second half, but committed several fouls that put the Ephs in the bonus at the 11:36 mark. Williams slowly chipped away at the Panther lead from the line, connecting on their next 13 of 14 free throws, including six by Blake Schultz. With 2:43 left, the Middlebury lead was cut to 62-58 on a pair of free throws by Williams' Kevin Snyder. Senior Ben Rudin (Scarsdale, N.Y.) hit a jumper for the Panthers at the 2:25 mark before Schultz answered with a jumper of his own with 2:04 on the clock.

Trailing 64-60 with 45 seconds left, the Ephs fouled Smith who hit both ends of the one-and-one for a 66-60 lead. Williams cut the lead to four one final time before Dudley hit one of two free throws with 17 seconds left for a 67-62 lead. The Ephs missed on their next possession as Edwards collected the rebound for Middlebury, sealing the win.

Rudin paced Middlebury scoring a team-high 15 points and dishing out four assists. Smith chipped in 14 and Dudley added 11, while sophomore Andrew Locke (Seattle, Wash.) grabbed a game-high eight rebounds and blocked four shots. Schultz led all scorers with 21 for Williams as Snyder netted 14.

Ben Rudin became the 15th player in school history to surpass the 1,000 point mark, as 19th ranked Middlebury topped Southern Vermont 92-47 in Pepin Gym on Tuesday night. Rudin, who recently became the school's all-time assist leader (421), is now the only player in the 92-year history of the program to have over 1,000 points and 400 assists in a career.

Middlebury, which boasts the nation's second-best field goal percentage defense, held S. Vermont to .213 shooting from the floor on the night. The Panthers, who lead the nation with 7.2 blocks/game, had a huge night with a dozen blocked shots, paced by Locke with six on the night.

Rudin paced the team early, scoring seven points as the Panthers jumped out to a 13-5 lead. Brendan Kordana hit a three for S. Vermont, before the Panthers went on an 18-3 run, capped by the 1,000th career point by Rudin on a lay-up in transition. Middlebury held Southern Vermont to just 5 of 37 shooting in the first half, taking a 38-18 lead into the intermission.

The Panthers kept control of the game in the second half, extending the lead to 31 on a dunk from Locke at the 13:44 mark. Rookie Carl Gayle (Mt. Vernon, N.Y.) made it a 40-point game with 6:19 remaining as the Panthers cruised to the 45-point victory.

Rudin (six assists) and sophomore Ashton Coghlan (New York, N.Y.) led the Panthers with 13 points apiece, Locke scored a dozen with 10 boards and six blocks, while Smith netted 10 with nine boards. Sharry scored eight with 10 boards and four blocks, while Edwards dished-out a game-high seven assists.
. Men's basketball record: 18-2
. Up next: 2/6 vs. Bowdoin - 7:00, 2/7 vs. Colby - 2:00