January 11, 2010

The Panther men's basketball team continued its winning ways with a hard-fought 81-75 victory over Plattsburgh at Pepin Gym on Tuesday night. A combined 52 fouls were whistled in the game, as Middlebury's starting backcourt fouled out in the closing minutes. During that span, a double-digit lead dwindled to a 76-71 advantage with 1:07 left in the game, but key free throw shooting down the stretch held Plattsburgh at bay.

An even start to the first half turned into an 11-6 advantage for Middlebury highlighted with a three from first-year player Nolan Thompson (Akron, Ohio) at 13:45. Plattsburgh roared back with a 12-2 run over the next five minutes for an 18-13 lead, including six of Errol Daniyan's game-high 23 points. The Panthers tied the game at 24 apiece on a three from Thompson at 3:56. With 54 ticks on the clock, senior Tim Edwards (Greenwich, Conn.) was fouled from behind the arc and swished home all three free throws for a 35-31 lead. A traditional three-point play by Plattsburgh's Danny Tangney was followed by a three from Middlebury junior Ryan Wholey (Pelham, N.H.) with 10 seconds in the half, setting the score at 38-34 going into intermission.

Ketema Brooks tied the game in the second half at 38-all on a pair of free throws at 18:45 before Middlebury exploded with a 16-0 run over the next six-plus minutes of play as six Panthers scored, including a dunk and a pair of free throws from junior Andrew Locke (Seattle, Wash.). Leading 61-44 with 9:34 left, the Cardinals rallied with a 12-2 run over the next three minutes of play, cutting the Middlebury lead to 63-56 with 6:30 remaining.

Edwards collected his fifth foul at 4:42. Plattsburgh's Chris Ruiz hit both free throws from the Edwards foul, as the Cardinals forced a turnover that Daniyan converted for a lay-up at 4:26. First-year player Jake Wolfin (Woodcliff Lake, N.J.) responded for the Panthers, hitting a big three from the wing for a 70-60 lead with 4:13 left.

Holding a 10-point lead at the 2:21 mark, Wholey was called for his fifth foul. Over the next 32 seconds, the double-digit lead was cut to 74-69, capped by a 25-foot three-pointer by Ruiz at 1:49. With the Cardinals in a full-court press, sophomore Ryan Sharry (Braintree, Mass.) broke loose for a lay-in and a 76-69 lead. Plattsburgh was forced to foul down the stretch and watched Middlebury hit 5/8 from the line to secure the win.

Sharry had another big night for Middlebury with team-highs of 18 points and 12 rebounds. Thompson netted 15, while Wholey and Edwards added 13 and 10 respectively. Locke blocked a game-high five shots, while grabbing six boards, and scored seven points.

Middlebury struggled from the floor on Thursday, as the seventh-ranked Panthers (10-1) suffered their first loss of the season, an 86-76 defeat at the hands of Colby-Sawyer (7-5) in Pepin Gym. Middlebury made just 5 of 27 (.185) three-point attempts on the night, while connecting on 13 of 27 (.481) free throws. Colby-Sawyer was an impressive 9 of 17 (.529) from behind the arc, while connecting on 27 of 37 (.730) from the charity stripe. Fifty fouls were whistled in the contest, as Middlebury held a slight 47-43 edge on the boards.

Colby-Sawyer led 13-8 early, before Middlebury went on a 12-0 run at the 11:40 mark to take a 20-13 lead with 9:33 remaining in the half. Rookie Luis Alvarez (Lynn, Mass.) hit a three and a pair of free throws during the stretch, before Wholey gave the Panthers their biggest lead of the half at 23-15 minutes later. The Chargers battled back, taking a two-point lead on a three from James Tobin late in the half, before Locke hit a lay-up to send the Panthers into the locker room in a 33-33 tie.

Colby-Sawyer opened the second half with a pair of threes from John Chaloux and one from Will Bardaglio to take a 44-35 lead at the 16:24 mark. Middlebury answered with a 6-0 spurt, sparked by a dunk and a hoop from junior Jamal Davis (Brooklyn, N.Y.). The Chargers then went on a pivotal 17-2 run over the game's next five minutes to take a 61-43 advantage. Chaloux converted a dunk, knocked down a three and hit four free throws during the key run.

Middlebury chipped away, cutting the deficit to 68-58 on a bucket from Davis with 5:12 left to play. The Panthers gained some momentum down the stretch, but the Chargers answered each time, as Corey Willis (9 of 10 free throws, 13 points) was big down the stretch, keeping the ball from Panther defenders. Following Davis' bucket, Colby-Sawyer converted 16 of 20 free throws in the game's final 4:52 to come away with the win.

Thompson led Middlebury with 17 points, Locke scored 14, while Davis netted 13 with eight boards. Edwards added 11 points and a game-high 14 rebounds on the night to go along with five assists and three steals.

Chaloux scored a game-high 25 for Colby-Sawyer, James Tobin netted 17 with 13 boards on 6 of 8 shooting, while Bardaglio scored 15.

Middlebury got back on the winning track with an 80-67 win at Skidmore (7-4) on Saturday afternoon.

The Panthers held a slim lead early, going on a 14-4 run at the 5:38 mark of the first half to take a 45-24 advantage. Six different players scored during the run, including a pair of hoops from Locke (6 blocks).

Leading 47-28 at the half, Middlebury extended its lead to 29 on a hoop from Wholey at the 14:37 mark of the second half. Skidmore whittled the lead down to 23, before going on a 13-0 run to make it a 72-62 game with 3:19 remaining. The Thoroughbreds came within eight with 1:11 left, but the Panthers were able to pull away for the win.

Sharry led the Panthers with 19 points and 13 rebounds on 7 of 14 shooting, while Wholey added 14 points, going 6 of 9 from the floor. Thompson added 10 points and seven boards in the win, while Tim Edwards had eight points, seven boards and five steals. Brian Lowry led Skidmore with 20 points.

Middlebury earned its 12th win of the season overall with a 97-69 victory over Lyndon Sunday at Stannard Gymnasium. The seventh-ranked Panthers improve to 12-1 overall as they open NESCAC play this weekend when they host Bates and Tufts.

Wolfin fired in 16 points off the bench to lead the Panthers, while Thompson and Alvarez added 13 and 12 points, respectively. Sharry netted 10 points and a game-high eight rebounds for the winners, while Edwards had a team-high five assists and three steals.
. Men's basketball record: 12-1
. Up next: 1/15 vs. Bates - 8:00, 1/16 vs. Tufts - 4:00