March 12, 2012

Travis Farrell hit a three at the buzzer to give the University of Scranton a 58-55 upset victory over host Middlebury in an NCAA Sectional game played before a sellout crowd of 1,200 in Pepin Gym. The Panthers, who saw a 25-game home winning streak snapped, end the 2011-12 season with a 26-4 overall record.

The first half featured several lead changes with neither team gaining momentum. Middlebury took a six-point lead at 10:25, as four-straight points from senior Ryan Sharry (Braintree, Mass.) made it 15-9 Panthers. Scranton battled back to tie the game at 15-15 with 5:56 remaining, scoring six straight while holding Middlebury without a field goal for nearly six minutes.

Scranton built a five-point lead at 2:10, as a three from Farrell made it 22-17. Middlebury scored the final three points of the half to keep it close, but Scranton led 22-20 at the break.

Ross Danzig led all players with 11 first-half points to lead the Royals, while seven points from sophomore Joey Kizel (Short Hills, N.J.) and seven boards from junior Peter Lynch (Westford, Mass.) paced the Panthers. Sharry tallied six first half points before going to the bench with his second foul at the 7:10 mark.

Both teams suffered from shooting woes in the half, as Scranton went 8-21 (38.1%) from the field, while Middlebury shot just 30.8%. The Panthers recorded season lows in first half points, field goal percentage, and three-point field goal percentage (1-10). Scranton also capitalized on Middlebury’s seven turnovers, scoring 12 points off Panther miscues.

            Scranton opened the second half on a 9-5 run, as a dunk from Tommy Morgan gave the Royals a six-point lead at 31-25 with 16:54 to play. Middlebury then used a 9-2 run highlighted by a junior Nolan Thompson (Akron, Ohio) three to take its first lead of the game since midway through the first half, going up 34-33 with 14:00 remaining.

            The lead changed hands three more times before Scranton built a five-point advantage capped by a three from Luke Hawk that set the score to 51-46 with 4:11 to play. Middlebury battled back, whittling the lead to two (55-53) on a conventional three-point play from Kizel with 44 seconds remaining.

            After a defensive board from Kizel, the sophomore took the ball the length of the court, hitting a runner to tie the game at 55-55 with just six seconds left. Scranton’s Farrell then hit the game-winner from beyond the arc as time expired, sending the Royals into the sectional final.

            Scranton held Middlebury to their lowest point total since the 2011 NCAA Semifinals when the Panthers fell to St. Thomas, 59-57. Middlebury shot 43.5% for the game, including just 4-17 (23.5%) from three-point range and just 11-20 (55%) from the line. The Royals shot 45.7% (21-46), while hitting 50% of their threes (8-16), but were also troubled by poor free throw shooting, going 8-16 from the charity stripe.

            Farrell led Scranton with 17 points, while Danzig finished with 14. Morgan tallied nine points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in the win.

            Middlebury was led by Kizel who finished with a game-high of 21 points, while scoring the Panther’s final nine points of the contest. Sharry finished with 13 points, while Lynch tallied a team-high nine rebounds.

            The game was the final of his collegiate career for Sharry, who finishes fifth all-time at Middlebury with 1,411 points. He gathered 901 rebounds (2nd), blocked 189 shots (2nd) and finished third in field goal percentage at 55.7% in 106 career games.
• Men’s basketball final record: 26-4