December 10, 2012

The Middlebury College men’s basketball team used excellent long-distance shooting (7-14) and perfection from the free throw line (17-17) to pull away from visiting Skidmore in a non-league contest, 74-53, in Pepin Gym. Trailing by as many as eight points early in the game, Middlebury (8-0) closed out the half shooting 70% from the floor, including a perfect 5-5 from behind the arc, turning an eight-point deficit into a five-point lead at the break.

Panton, Vermont native Connor Merrill got the Thoroughbreds (5-2) going, starting a 7-0 run on a jumper. By the 11:06 mark, Skidmore’s lead grew to 16-8 on a three by Brian Moore. The teams traded a pair of buckets each before the Panthers started their blistering shooting performance to close out the half.

Senior Nolan Thompson’s (Akron, Ohio) first three sparked the run at 8:29, cutting the deficit to 20-15. After a pair of Panther buckets followed a Merrill lay-up, Thompson struck again with his second three at 3:27. Trailing 28-24 after a basket by Skidmore’s Doolun Anyam at 1:52, a trifecta of threes ended the half for the Panthers. Junior Joey Kizel (Short Hills, N.J.) had back-to back treys, giving Middlebury its first lead at 30-28 with 51 seconds left. In the final seconds of the half, Kizel set up sophomore Hunter Merryman (San Marino, Calif.) for the buzzer-beating trey and a 33-28 lead at the break.

The Panthers used a 16-6 run to open the second half, building a 49-34 lead with 12:34 on the clock. Three times the Thoroughbreds cut the lead to 11 over the next few minutes, but they could not get the deficit down to single-digits. Leading 56-45 with 8:48 remaining, Middlebury used a 12-2 burst to pull away over the next three minutes, cruising to the 74-53 victory.

Five Panthers hit double-digits in scoring, led by senior Peter Lynch’s (Westford, Mass.) 16. The backcourt duo of Kizel and senior Jake Wolfin (Woodcliff Lake, N.J.) had 15 and 12 points respectively, as Wolfin hit 8-8 free throws. Thompson grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds with his 15 points for a double-double, as Merryman chipped in 10 off the bench.

Middlebury shot .586 from the floor and held a 51-22 rebounding advantage on its way to a 103-67 win over Johnson State (3-5) in Pepin Gym on Thursday.

Lynch was the story early, scoring the first nine points of the game with the Panthers taking a 12-2 advantage on a three from Kizel. The lead remained in double-digits with an 8-0 run at the 4:25 mark leaving Middlebury with a 43-23 advantage with 3:31 left in the first half. A bucket from Lynch and a pair of threes from sophomore Dean Brierley (Morristown, N.J.) sparked the run. The Panthers took a 56-29 lead into the intermission on a late three from Merryman.

The lead hovered around 30 for much of the second half growing to as many as 40 on a hoop from rookie Henry Pendergast (Bridgewater, Conn.) at the 5:46 mark, making it a 93-53 game. The Panthers kept up the pressure down the stretch, emerging with the 103-67 win. The 100-point effort was the second of the season for Middlebury, which earned 117 points in a win over Green Mountain on November 20th.

Lynch led all scorers with 21 points while earning a game-high 11 boards on 10-14 shooting from the floor. Merryman added 19 on 6-9 marksmanship, Kizel went 5-6 for a dozen points with seven assists, while Wolfin added 11. Brierley added nine points, junior Jack Roberts (Moylan, Pa.) had seven points, seven rebounds and three blocks, while junior James Jensen (North White Plains, N.Y.) earned seven points with five boards.

• Men’s basketball record: 8-0

• Up next: 12/30 vs. RPI – 3:00, 1/4 @ Bates – 6:00, 1/5 @ Tufts – 2:00