March 5, 2012

The Middlebury College men’s basketball team advanced to the NCAA Sectionals after an 89-73 win over Albertus Magnus in a regional final game played at Middlebury College. The Panthers (26-3) will make their second-straight trip to the sectional next weekend, when they take on Scranton, while Cabrini meets Eastern Connecticut State. The game was played before a third-straight sellout crowd of 1,200 in Pepin Gym.

Albertus Magnus came out charging, taking a 7-0 lead on two buckets from Jefferson Lora and a three from Ray Askew at the 17:47 mark. Middlebury answered with an 11-0 run taking an 11-7 lead with 14:35 left in the first half. Senior Ryan Sharry (Braintree, Mass.) hit a jumper, a three, and capped the run with a huge dunk as the Panthers regained momentum.

The Falcons’ second leading scorer Darius Watson went to the bench midway through the first half with his second foul, and would not return until the second session. Leading 15-14, Middlebury junior Peter Lynch (Westford, Mass.) converted lay-ups on three straight trips with great passes from junior Jake Wolfin (Woodcliff Lake, N.J.) and sophomore Joey Kizel (Short Hills, N.J.) to give the Panthers a 21-16 lead with 7:19 remaining in the half. Middlebury led 21-20 prior to a 13-2 run to give them a 34-22 lead, capped by a hoop from Sharry with 2:35 remaining. Rookie Dylan Sinnickson (Sands Point, N.Y.) sparked the run with six points, while Sharry scored four including a huge dunk in traffic at the 4:00 mark. The Panthers held on to a double-digit lead for the remainder of the half, taking a 38-26 lead into the intermission.

Middlebury shot 50% from the floor in the first half, hitting 1-6 threes and 7-13 from the line. Albertus Magnus shot just 26.7%, making 2-8 from three-point range and 8-10 from the line.

The Panthers made it a 16-point game at the 16:01 mark on a three from Kizel and a lay-up from sophomore James Jensen (North White Plains, N.Y.) to make it a 46-30 game. The lead continued to grow, with Middlebury taking a 65-43 lead at the 10:21 mark on a three from Wolfin and a nice bucket from Sharry on a Wolfin dish. The lead hovered around 20 for the remainder of the contest, with late threes from Watson and Julian Sanders make it an 89-73 final.

Sharry recorded his 16th double-double of the season, netting 21 points and a game-high 15 boards to go along with three blocks. Lynch netted 14 on 7-11 shooting, while junior Nolan Thompson (Akron, Ohio) scored 14. Kizel and Jensen each scored 11, with Kizel dishing out six helpers. Wolfin chipped in with seven points and seven assists.

Ray Askew scored a game-high 26 points to pace Albertus Magnus, pulling down 11 boards with three blocks. Watson and Jefferson Lora each netted 11, while Sanders added 10.

Middlebury went on a 20-5 second half run to open up a 20-point lead on its way to a 75-49 win over Morrisville on Friday night.

 Middlebury jumped out early, taking a 13-4 lead with 13:31 remaining in the first half. Threes on three straight trips sparked the run, the first from Kizel with Wolfin knocking down two straight. Morrisville answered with a 6-0 spurt, making it a 13-10 game at the 11:29 mark on a hoop from Brandon Hanks. The Panthers came right back with another run, scoring the game’s next eight points to take a 21-10 advantage with 8:18 remaining. The lead grew to as many as 14 twice, but the Mustangs outscored the Panthers 11-3 in the final 6:50 of the half. Neither team scored in the final 2:07, leaving Middlebury with a 29-23 lead at the intermission.

Middlebury shot 37.5% in the first half, including 5-17 from behind the arc. Morrisville connected on 29.7% of its shots, going 1-11 from three-point range in the first half. Constant double-teaming in the 2-3 zone held Sharry to just two points, while he grabbed eight boards on the other end of the floor.

Morrisville chipped away in the second half, cutting the lead to six at 41-35 on a bucket from Mickey Davis at the 15:09 mark. The Panthers followed with the decisive 20-5 run over the next 6:31 to put the game away. Middlebury shot 7-11 from the floor during the run, hitting four of five three-pointers. Kizel and Wolfin each knocked down threes, while Thompson scored 10 points, including a pair from behind the arc.

The lead grew to as many as 27 on a late three from sophomore Albert Nascimento (Governador Valadares, Brazil), with the Panthers coming away with a 75-49 win. Middlebury came back to shoot 63.3% in the second half, finishing the game at an even 50%.  The Panthers held a 20-4 advantage in points off turnovers.

Thompson led the Panthers with a game-high 19 points on 8-14 shooting to go along with four assists. Wolfin added 14 points and six assists, Kizel had 11 points and five helpers, while Lynch scored 10 on 5-6 shooting. Sharry finished the game with nine points and a game-high 12 rebounds.

Hanks paced the Mustangs with 13 points and 11 rebounds, Kucjok Ater had 10 points and 10 boards, while Davis netted 11.
• Men’s Basketball record: 26-3
• Up next: 3/9 vs. Scranton – 7:30, E. Conn. vs. Cabrini – 5:30 (NCAA Sectional), 3/10 – Sectional Final – 7:00