February 9, 2009

The Panther men's basketball team (20-2, 7-0) set a new school record with its 20th win of the season as they picked up a 78-73 win over Colby (14-7, 4-3) in Pepin Gym. The 16th ranked Panthers remain the only undefeated team in the NESCAC as they improve to 10-0 at home, extending their school-record winning streak to 16 games. The Panthers shot a red-hot .568 from the floor in the game, holding a 23-12 edge on the free throw line.

With the game tied at 8-8, Middlebury went on an 8-2 run sparked by a three from senior Ben Rudin (Scarsdale, N.Y.) to take an 18-10 lead with 12:53 left in the first half. Colby trailed by nine with 3:07 remaining, when Justin Sherman hit back-to-back three's to make it a 32-29 game at the 1:35 mark. The Panthers closed the half on a 5-0 spurt to take a 37-29 lead into the locker room.

Middlebury led by six in the second half before a 10-0 run gave them a 49-33 advantage with 15:12 left to play. Senior Kyle Dudley (Scarsdale, N.Y.) hit a pair of key three's during the run, going 4 of 5 from behind the arc on the afternoon. Colby hung tough and eventually cut the lead to eight before the Panthers extended it to 14 at the 5:11 mark on a hoop from senior Aaron Smith (W. Hartford, Conn.).

Colby was in foul trouble late, as top two scorers Adam Choice and Michael Russell fouled out with just under seven minutes remaining. The Mules cut the lead to 68-61 on a hoop from Artie Cutrone and then began to send the Panthers to the free throw line for the final 2:23 of the game. Middlebury came through, knocking down 8 of 10 from the line to come away with the 78-73 win.

Rudin led all scorers with 27 points on 6 of 9 shooting, including 14-16 from the charity stripe. He also dished out a game-high seven assists with four thefts. Dudley netted 14, sophomore Andrew Locke (Seattle, Wash.) scored 14 on 6 of 6 shooting with seven boards and three blocks, while Smith scored 10 with five rebounds.

Sherman led Colby with 14, Cutrone scored 13, Choice netted 12, while Christian Van Loenen scored 11. Choice hit a transition hoop in the first half for the Mules, becoming the 34th player in Colby school history to surpass the 1,000 point mark.

The previous night, the Panthers earned a 62-50 NESCAC win over Bowdoin (13-7, 2-4). Middlebury came out strong early, leading 11-4 before holding an 18-9 advantage on a pair of free throws from Rudin at the 11:08 mark. Bowdoin came back with a 10-0 run, taking its only lead of the game at 19-18 on a three from Kyle Jackson at the 8:58 mark. The Panthers answered with a three from junior Tim Edwards (Greenwich, Conn.), before going into the locker room with a 32-27 advantage on a buzzer-beater from rookie Ryan Sharry (Braintree, Mass.). Middlebury forced 14 Bowdoin turnovers in the first half, but the Polar Bears hung tight behind .480 shooting from the floor.

A quick 5-0 spurt to start the second half gave Middlebury a 37-29 lead with 16:29 remaining. The lead grew to 11 on a three from Dudley at the 9:27 mark, with the Polar Bears answering with an 8-3 run over the next five minutes to cut the lead to six with 4:31 left to play. Middlebury answered with a 6-0 spurt over the next three minutes, giving the Panthers a 57-45 lead with just 2:35 left to play. Middlebury maintained control from that point, coming away with the 62-50 win.

Rudin led all scorers with 25 points, while Dudley added 13 and Sharry netted seven. Will Hanley paced Bowdoin with 14 points and eight boards, while Tim Lane scored 12 with a dozen boards.
. Men's basketball record: 20-2
. Up next: 2/13 @ Trinity - 7:30, 2/14 @ Amherst - 3:00