January 10, 2011

The Middlebury College men’s basketball team set a new school-record with 11 wins to open the season as the sixth-ranked Panthers improved to 11-0 on the season. Middlebury returns to action next weekend when they begin NESCAC play at Tufts and Bates.

Trailing 18-17 in the first half, Middlebury went on a 17-1 run to pull away from visiting Rensselaer 77-60 on Jan. 2 at Pepin Gym.

            Rensselaer held an early 11-5 advantage capped by a lay-up by Jeremy Moylan at 15:25. The teams traded leads five times before Middlebury went on its decisive run. After the Engineers’ Mike Hammond’s bucket at the 9:50 mark, the Panthers went on their decisive run. Over the next 1:43, Middlebury junior Ryan Sharry (Braintree, Mass.) scored the next seven points of the game, while a lay-in by sophomore Peter Lynch (Westford, Mass.) ended the run as the Panthers held a 35-19 advantage with 4:41 left in the half.

The Panther defense was stellar during the final 9:50, holding the Engineers to 0/8 shooting from the floor and forcing five turnovers. Excellent free throw shooting by Rensselaer kept the Engineers close, hitting 11/12 during the span as the Panther held a 47-29 lead at intermission.

Middlebury opened the second half on a 15-4 run, as seven different Panthers got involved in the scoring. Sophomore Jake Wolfin (Woodcliff Lake, N.J.) notched four of his career-best 12 assists during the spurt. The Panther defense maintained its pressure, holding the Engineers to .286 from the floor in the second half, as Middlebury cruised to the 77-60 victory.

            Seventeen Panthers saw action in the game, highlighted by Sharry’s game-highs of 18 points and 13 rebounds. Sophomore Nolan Thompson (Akron, Ohio) added 11 from the floor and hit 3/6 from behind the arc, while Wolfin dished out a game-high 12 assists. For the game, Middlebury dished out 22 assists to the Engineers eight, and held a 50-40 rebounding advantage.

Middlebury improved to 8-0 on the season as they earned an 88-82 road win at #22 Plattsburgh on Tuesday night. Senior Ryan Wholey (Pelham, N.H.) scored a career-high 24 points in the game to lead the Panthers, going 5-9 from behind the arc.

Sharry scored 14 points, Wolfin netted a dozen with 10 assists, senior Andrew Locke (Seattle, Wash.) scored 11, while rookie Joey Kizel (Short Hills, N.J.) had nine with 10 assists in the victory. Middlebury shot 40% from the floor and held a 44-35 edge on the boards.

Locke had 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 blocks lifting Middlebury to an 80-54 road victory at Colby-Sawyer on Thursday evening.

Avenging an 86-76 loss to the Chargers last season, while ranked seventh, Middlebury controlled the game from the tip. Middlebury shot 45.5% from the floor, while holding the home team to 27.8% thanks to 15 team blocks. Locke was responsible for 10, which broke his previous school record.

Locke led all scorers with his 15 points. Sharry added 14 points (6-9 FG) and eight rebounds for Middlebury. Kizel and senior Wholey each chipped in 12 points.

Middlebury remained undefeated at 10-0 on the season as the Panthers pulled away from Skidmore in the second half to earn an 85-72 win over the Thoroughbreds.

            Both teams placed four players in double figures in scoring, while the Panthers converted 32 of 49 (.653) free throw attempts in the game. Middlebury shot .462 from the floor and held a 49-36 advantage on the boards.

            Middlebury trailed just once in the game, after a pair of free throws gave Skidmore a 10-8 lead at the 15:30 mark. The Panthers followed with a 10-0 run, including six points from Sharry, to take an 18-10 lead. The lead grew to as many as nine and was cut to as few as one, before Middlebury took a 37-33 advantage into the intermission.

            An 11-4 run from Skidmore tied the game at 44-44 with 15:09 left in the contest. Middlebury slowly increased its lead, taking a 64-53 advantage on a hoop from Locke at the 65:32 mark. The Panthers maintained a double-digit lead for the remainder of the contest, on their way to the 85-72 win.

            Sharry and Thompson led Middlebury with 17 points apiece, while Locke added 15 and Wolfin netted a dozen. Locke grabbed a game and career-high 13 boards, Sharry had 11, while Kizel scored eight with seven boards.

Middlebury ended the week with an 87-50 win over Lyndon State (1-10) on Sunday night in Pepin Gym.

            Middlebury jumped out to an 18-8 lead in the game’s first 7:31, behind a dozen points from Thompson. The Panthers followed with a 13-2 run that gave them a 31-10 lead with 8:35 left in the first half. Middlebury kept up the pressure, with 14 players entering the game in the first half to help give the team a 46-22 lead at the intermission.

            After shooting .450 in the first half, the Panthers shot .565 from the floor in the second half with 14 of 15 active players entering the scoring column. Middlebury ended the game with a 57-40 edge on the boards, holding Lyndon State to .278 from the floor.

            Thompson led the Panthers with a career-high 22 points in 23 minutes, including five from three-point range. Sharry earned another double-double with 17 points and a career-best 16 boards on 7-9 shooting, all coming in just 23 minutes of play. Locke added eight points and five blocks, while Wolfin dished out six assists.
• Men’s basketball record: 11-0
• Up next: 1/14 @ Tufts, 1/15 @ Bates