February 13, 2012

The second-ranked Middlebury College men’s basketball team cruised to a 103-70 non-conference victory over Lyndon State (4-16) on the road. The Panthers will host Williams in a NESCAC Quarterfinal game on Saturday at 3:00.

            Middlebury scored 14 of the game’s first 16 points and led by as many as 20 midway through the half. A three from the Hornets’ Steve Gantt cut the Panthers lead to 17 at 9:21, but that’s as close as Lyndon State would get. Middlebury shot .564 in the half, taking a 56-33 lead into the locker room.

            The Panthers went back to work in the second half, quickly building a 75-41 lead with 13:39 to play. Lyndon State used an 8-0 run to cut the lead back down to 26 points at 11:57, but a 16-3 Middlebury burst built the advantage back to 39 points as the Panthers closed out the victory. 

            Middlebury shot .543 for the game, while holding Lyndon State to .387 from the floor. The Panthers also held a 49-33 edge on the glass.

            Senior Ryan Sharry (Braintree, Mass.) posted his 11th double-double of the season with 17 points and 10 boards to lead Middlebury. Junior forward Peter Lynch (Westford, Mass.) tallied 17 points on 6-8 shooting from the floor, and 4-4 from the charity stripe, while first-year player Dylan Sinnickson (Sands Point, N.Y.) picked up 11 points. Fifteen different Panthers found the scoring column on the night with no one playing more than 20 minutes.

             Middlebury had little trouble at Trinity, picking up a 76-47 road win. The Panthers shot .547 from the floor, holding the Bantams to .265.

Middlebury opened up a 37-21 lead with just under five minutes left in the first half, before Trinity scored eight straight, including four by Mick DiStasio to close to 37-29 on a layup by Alex Conaway. Middlebury sophomore Joey Kizel (Short Hills, N.J.) hit a jumper in the final minute for a 39-29 Panther lead at the break. Sharry led all scorers with 10 points at intermission, while the visitors made 58.6 percent of their first-half field goal attempts. The Panthers opened the second half with an 11-2 run and went ahead, 64-44, on a three-pointer by junior Nolan Thompson (Akron, Ohio) at the six-minute mark. Middlebury scored 12 of the game's final 15 points to account for the 76-47 final.

Trinity’s Chris Applegate scored 11 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while Sharry finished with 19 points, 11 boards, and two blocks. Thompson added 12 points, five rebounds, and five assists for the Panthers. Kizel finished with nine points, while junior Jake Wolfin (Woodcliff Lake, N.J.) scored seven with five assists.

Middlebury dropped its first NESCAC game of the season, falling 77-75 in overtime at Amherst. The sixth-ranked Jeffs clinch the top seed for the upcoming NESCAC Championship, while the #2 Panthers own the second seed. Amherst will host eighth-seeded Hamilton College next Saturday in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament, while Middlebury earned the No. 2 seed and will host seventh-seeded Williams.

Middlebury (22-2, 9-1 NESCAC) didn’t lead until 3:21 remained in regulation, and Amherst (22-2, 10-0 NESCAC) didn’t regain the lead until Pete Kaasila grabbed an offensive rebound and put home a layup with 2.8 seconds remaining in overtime. The Panthers’ ensuing in-bounds pass was stolen by Aaron Toomey at half court, securing the win for the Lord Jeffs.

Sharry posted his sixth consecutive double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds, but it was Kizel and Thompson who led the Panthers with 18 points apiece. Lynch added 12 points for the visitors.

Toomey finished with a team-high 16 points thanks to an 8-8 showing at the line, as he accounted for the final points of regulation and another four in overtime. Kaasila had 12 points and 11 rebounds, also hitting two clutch free throws in the extra period.

The Panthers began the week ranked third in Division III in field goal percentage (.517), but they started the game 5-20 from the field. The Jeffs, on the other hand, were firing on all cylinders, doing everything from throwing alley-oops to taking charges en route to a 35-20 lead with 2:30 to play.

Middlebury closed the first half on a dominant 11-0 run that began with a Thompson three-pointer and ended with a layup by Kizel, as the Jeffs held a 35-31 lead at the break.

The visitors cut their deficit to one point on four occasions but would not tie the game until Thompson buried another three, bringing the score to 62-62 with 3:39 remaining in regulation. Middlebury took its first lead of the game on the next possession when Wolfin connected for three of his own from the left corner.

Kaasila came up with a big offensive rebound and kicked the ball out to Taylor Barrise, who tied the game at 67-67 with a straightaway three. A goaltending call briefly handed the lead back to the Panthers, but a pair of Toomey free throws with 10 seconds on the clock marked the final points of the second half. Amherst got the ball back after Wolfin was whistled for traveling, but a half-court heave by Willy Workman hit the back of the rim.

Middlebury struck first in the back-and-forth overtime session with a Sharry layup, but Amherst countered with a pair of Toomey free throws. The Panthers went back inside and got a lay-in from Kizel, but Kaasila knocked down two shots from the line to tie the game at 73-73.

Two free throws by Lynch marked Middlebury’s final points of the game. Another two points at the line from Toomey tied the game at 75-75 with 1:14 to play, and a missed layup by Wolfin handed the ball back to Amherst. The Jeffs held for the last shot and went to Toomey for a three-pointer, but his attempt was no good. Kaasila was there for the put-back to make it a 77-75 game with only 2.8 seconds to go, and after a Middlebury timeout the ensuing in-bounds pass was taken away by a leaping Toomey at half court.

The teams had nearly identical shooting nights and were separated by only four rebounds, but Amherst committed only four turnovers to the Panthers’ 12. The Jeffs made their last 11 free throws, while Middlebury was a combined 6-6 at the line in the second half and in overtime.

Barrise finished with 13 points for the Jeffs, while David Kalema was a key contributor with 11 points, as Amherst’s bench outscored Middlebury’s by a 36-10 margin.
• Men’s Basketball record: 22-2
• Up next: 2/18 vs. Williams (NESCAC Quarterfinals) – 3:00