November 19, 2012

The Panther men’s basketball team captured the Rinso Marquette Tournament by defeating the host school Lebanon Valley, 72-63. Senior Nolan Thompson (Akron, Ohio) earned tournament MVP honors with 18 points on 6-12 shooting in the title game.

Trailing 18-17 with 6:36 remaining in the first half, fourth-ranked Middlebury scored 16 of the final 21 points to take a 33-22 lead into the break.

The lead grew to as many as 14 early in the second half before a 9-2 run over a 3:11 span brought Lebanon Valley within three at 42-39 with 13:09 remaining.

The Panthers built their lead to eight before their opponents again battled back to make it a 48-45 game midway through the second half. Middlebury slowly increased its lead, eventually getting their advantage to double-digits on a pair of free throws from junior Joey Kizel (Short Hills, N.J.) with 4:59 remaining, making it a 61-50 game. The lead grew to as many as 14 before the Panthers emerged with the 72-63 win.

Senior Jake Wolfin (Woodcliff Lake, N.J.) aided Thompson’s effort with 17 points, followed by sophomore Hunter Merryman (San Marino, Calif.) with 14 and junior James Jensen (North White Plains, N.Y.), who scored 13. Kizel dished out seven assists in the game, while junior Jack Roberts (Moylan, Pa.) blocked four shots. Merryman was named to the all-tournament team.

Middlebury put four players in double figures as the Panthers handed Ursinus a 78-73 loss Friday night in the opening game of tournament.

Middlebury was led by 13 points each from Thompson and Merryman, while Kizel had 12. Senior Peter Lynch (Westford, Mass.) and Wolfin added 10 points apiece, with six boards from Thompson and four assists apiece for Wolfin and Kizel.

Middlebury survived two nine-point rallies by Ursinus, as the Panthers took the lead for good with a three-pointer by Merryman with 8:37 to play. Leading 65-58 with 6:37 left in the game, the Panthers saw the Bears rally all the way to within one at 69-68 on a pair of foul shots by Ward.

However, a three-pointer by Thompson with 2:57 left put the Panthers up four at 72-68 as they held on for the win.

In the first half, Ursinus took an early 6-0 lead, and took their biggest lead of the game at 9-2 on a three-pointer by Donahue at the 15:45 mark. Middlebury responded back with a 13-4 scoring jaunt, taking its first lead at 15-13 on a jumper by junior Nate Bulluck (Santa Monica, Calif.).

Ursinus grabbed the lead back, then went up by three at 20-17 on a jumper by Vasturia with 8:43 left. Leading 22-19, the Bears saw the Panthers rally to go up three at 26-23 on a basket by Wolfin.

Trailing 35-33, Middlebury would close the half by scoring the final six points capped by a basket from rookie Matt Daley (Fairfield, Conn.) for a 39-35 intermission lead.

Middlebury had a 21-14 lead on the board after the first 20 minutes, including an 8-3 edge on offensive rebounds.

In the second half, the Panthers continued their scoring run and went up by as much as nine at 48-39 on a three-pointer by Thompson.

Ursinus rallied back again as the Bears went on an 11-2 run to go up 51-50 on a three-pointer by Adams with 12:38 left.

In a game that featured 13 lead changes, both squads traded one-point leads, before Ursinus went up by two at 58-56 on a basket by Ward with 10:26 left. Following a Middlebury timeout, the Panthers scored the next nine points and took the lead for good.

The Panthers overcame cold shooting at the foul line, going just 7-14 in the game after a 1-5 performance in the first half. The Panthers had a 38-32 edge on the glass, with a commanding 14-8 lead in the offensive end.

Middlebury also had 12 steals, four of which came from Jensen.

• Men’s basketball record: 2-0

• Up next: 11/20 @ Green Mountain – 7:00, 11/25 @ Plattsburgh – 4:00