November 28, 2011

The fifth-ranked Panther men’s basketball team handed St. Joseph’s College of Rutland its first loss of the season (5-1), as the Panthers (3-0) picked up a 61-48 win in their home-opener in Pepin Gym. Middlebury was playing without pre-season All-American Ryan Sharry (Braintree, Mass.), who was missing his third straight game with an injury.

            Leading 17-15 at the 8:08 mark of the first half, Middlebury went on a 13-2 run over the next 7:04 to take a 30-17 advantage on a three from rookie Dean Brierley (Morristown, N.J.) with 1:04 left in the half. Middlebury went into the locker room with a 32-22 advantage, shooting .591 from the floor.

            The lead hovered at 10 for much of the second half, extending to 13 on a hoop from first-year player Dylan Sinnickson (Sands Point, N.Y.) with 14:04 remaining. The Saints responded with a quick 5-0 spurt on a three-point play from Rahiem Smalls to make it a 42-34 contest at the 13:12 mark.

            The lead increased to 11 before a lay-up from Evan Jobst put St. Joseph’s within seven at 46-39 with 6:30 left to play. A big three from junior Nolan Thompson (Akron, Ohio) put the lead in double-digits, 49-39 at the 4:51 mark. The Panthers led by as many as 15 down the stretch, settling for a 61-48 final.

            Thompson and junior Peter Lynch (Westford, Mass.) led Middlebury with 14 points apiece, with Lynch adding seven boards and three blocks. Sophomore Joey Kizel (Short Hills, N.J.) scored a dozen with four helpers, while Brierley added seven.

Middlebury broke open a 21-20 game in the first half with an 18-5 run and later went on to an 81-43 non-conference victory at Johnson State on Sunday at Carter Gym. 

            The Panthers put four players in double-figures with Thompson leading the way with 13 points and four steals.  Lynch recorded a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds while Brierley also added 11. Sophomore James Jensen (North White Plains, N.Y.) chipped in with 10 points and seven rebounds.

The Badgers had a fine start and led 15-11 after a pair of Phelps free throws with 11:14 left in the first half.  Phelps accounted for nine of the Badgers first 15 points in the span.

The vaunted Middlebury defense would take control of the contest as the Panthers held Johnson to just 18% (5-28) shooting during the games’ second 20 minutes while also finishing possessions earning a 24-8 rebounding advantage in the second half.  Middlebury held the Badgers to an astonishing seven field goals over the game’s final 26 minutes.
• Men’s Basketball record: 4-0
• Up next: 11/29 @ S. Vermont