January 17, 2011

            The Middlebury College men’s basketball team improved to 13-0 overall and 2-0 in NESCAC play as the fifth-ranked Panthers earned a 78-65 road win at Bates. The 13 wins to start the season are the most in school history for Middlebury, as they return to action on Tuesday at Hamilton. Middlebury continued its stellar shooting, going .595 from the floor, .444 from behind the arc, while knocking down 86% of its free throws.

            Middlebury took a 13-7 lead early, before Bates cut the lead to one on a three from Mark Brust at the 8:17 mark. The Panthers answered with a quick spurt, including a two and a three from sophomore Nolan Thompson (Akron, Ohio) to take a 24-17 advantage with 4:55 left in the first half. The lead extended to 10 as Middlebury took a 34-24 lead into the halftime break.

            The margin hovered at 10 or more for much of the second half, with a 9-2 run midway through the half giving the Panthers a 60-43 lead with 8:47 left to play. The Bobcats came within nine before the Panthers connected on 8 of 10 free throws in the final 4:00 to make it a 78-65 final.

            Thompson scored 22 points on 8 of 12 shooting to lead all scorers, followed by senior Ryan Wholey (Pelham, N.H.) (6 rebounds) and junior Ryan Sharry (Braintree, Mass.) (9 rebounds) with 12 points apiece. Rookie Joey Kizel (Short Hills, N.J.) added 11 points in the victory, while sophomore Jake Wolfin (Woodcliff Lake, N.J.) scored eight.

            Visiting Middlebury overcame a 15-point second-half deficit and went on to earn a 79-63 victory at Tufts on Friday night at Cousens Gymnasium. The Panthers were led by a career-high 27 points from Thompson, who had 18 in the second half.

            Middlebury shot 64.3 percent (18/28) in the second half, including five for six on three-pointers. Senior tri-captain Andrew Locke (Seattle, Wash.) finished with seven points, eight rebounds and six blocks for Middlebury.

            Tufts lost its third straight and dropped to 6-7 overall. The Jumbos were led by sophomore Scott Anderson's 15 points to go with six rebounds. Junior Alex Orchowski added 11 points and seven rebounds to the Tufts effort. The Jumbos scored on just eight of 28 shots (28.6 percent) in the second half.

            Middlebury grabbed an early 8-2 lead, but the Jumbos controlled the rest of the first half and led by 13 (43-30) at halftime. Tufts sophomore guard Alex Goldfarb nailed three three-pointers and had 13 points at the break. Wholey led Middlebury with 11 points at halftime.

            After the strong Panther start, Tufts outscored the visitors 26-9 during an eight and a half minute stretch to lead 28-17 with 9:28 remaining in the first half. Middlebury cut the gap to six at 36-30 with 4:19 on the clock, but the Jumbos scored the final seven points - five by Goldfarb - to build their healthy lead at the break.

            The Jumbos pushed the margin to 15 points twice early in the second half, including 47-32 on Orchowski's lay-up at the 18:21 mark. However, the Panthers began their comeback with a 12-3 run over the next four minutes. They were within six at 50-44 following a lay-up by Locke with 14:28 on the clock.

            Tufts was able to hold the lead until a three-point play by Wolfin produced a 54-54 tie at 11:07. The teams went back-and-forth over the next five minutes. Anderson's lay-up for Tufts at 6:45 gave the hosts a 63-62 edge, but those would be the last points of the game for the Jumbos. A three-pointer by Wolfin got Middlebury going on a 17-0 stretch to finish the game. In all, the Panthers produced a 31-point swing during the final 18 minutes of the game (47-16). They out-scored the Jumbos 49-20 in the second half.
• Men’s basketball record: 13-0
• Up next: 1/18 @ Hamilton, 1/21 vs. Wesleyan – 6:00, 1/22 vs. Conn. – 2:00