February 22, 2010

The Middlebury College men's basketball team advanced to the NESCAC semifinals for the third straight season after a 56-52 win over Trinity in a quarterfinal match-up in Pepin Gym. The Panthers (23-2) will take on Colby, a 67-49 winner over Amherst, in a semifinal contest at 4:00 p.m. next Saturday at Williams. Bates meets the host school in the other semifinal at 2:00 p.m. The winners meet on Sunday for the NESCAC Championship at noon. Trinity ends its season with a 10-14 mark.

            Middlebury took a 6-2 lead early behind a pair of hoops from junior Andrew Locke (Seattle, Wash.), but their shooting would go ice-cold for much of the half. Trailing 8-6, Trinity went on a 9-0 run to take a 15-8 lead with 11:14 left in the half. The Bantams extended their lead to as many as eight, with Middlebury's rookie Nolan Thompson (Akron, Ohio) tying the game at 24 with 1:55 left in the half following one of six blocks from Locke. Trinity answered, taking a 28-26 lead into the intermission. The Panthers made just 1 of 10 three-point field goals in the first half, shooting .310 overall from the floor.

            Trinity led in the second half, with the Panthers tying the game at 39 on a three-point play from sophomore Ryan Sharry (Braintree, Mass.) with 12:44 remaining. The teams exchanged threes late, with Brian Ford knocking one down for Trinity before first-year player Jake Wolfin (Woodcliff Lake, N.J.) answered for the Panthers to give his team a 53-52 lead with 2:14 remaining.

            Trailing by one, the Bantams had the ball with 34 seconds remaining, but turned it over. Wolfin hit a pair of free throws on the other end of the court, before the Bantams missed a three with 21 seconds remaining. Sharry hit one of two free throws to put the game out of reach as the Panthers emerged with the 56-52 victory.

            Sharry led all scorers with 18 points, while pulling down seven rebounds. Senior Tim Edwards (Greenwich, Conn.) added 14 points, while Wolfin netted seven with six assists. Ian Fels led Trinity with 15 points, Brian Ford scored 13, while Luke MacDougall grabbed a game-high 12 boards.

            Earlier in the week, Middlebury cruised to a 76-57 win at Green Mountain in their final tune-up before entering post-season play.

            The Panthers shot 42.9 percent in the opening 20 minutes while limiting the home side to only 7-33 shooting from the field and steadily built an insurmountable 38-19 advantage. Locke led the charge for Middlebury, dropping 12 of his team-high 16 points in the first half.

            The Eagles showed brief signs of life in the second half, shooting 48.5 percent from the field and cutting the lead to 15 before Middlebury put the game away.

            The Panthers dominated inside, racking up 54 rebounds (34 Green Mountain) and notching 28 points in the paint. Locke, who finished the night 8-12 from the field, added 11 boards and four blocks while Thompson and Sharry each added 11 points.

• Men's basketball record: 23-2

• Up next: 2/27 vs. Colby @ Williams (NESCAC Semifinals) - 4:00, 2/28 - Champ. - 12:00