Men's Basketball Headed To Rochester For NCAA Tournament

March 4, 2008

The Middlebury men's basketball team will makes its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance on Friday, March 7th at the University of Rochester. The Panthers will take on the host school, while Farmingdale State meets Penn St.-Behrend in the other contest. The winners will meet in a regional final on Saturday. Tickets are priced at $6 for general admission, $3 for students with ID, senior citizens, and children.

Middlebury earned its way into the tournament with an at-large bid after a record-breaking regular season. The Panthers set a school record for wins in '07-'08 with 19, two better than a 17-8 season back in '74-'75.

Middlebury earned its first NESCAC Tournament win on February 23rd, dismantling Williams 96-59 in a NESCAC quarterfinal game in Pepin Gym. The Panthers outscored the Ephs 36-5 in the final 11:33 of the game to cruise to their second win over Williams this season. Middlebury placed six players in double figures, shooting .583 on the afternoon.

The following weekend at Amherst, Trinity closed the game on a 15-3 run as the Bantams picked up a 72-63 win over Middlebury in a NESCAC semifinal game. The Panthers struggled down the stretch with 1 of 7 shooting in the game's final 2:35, as Trinity went 4-4 from the floor to seal the win.

Middlebury ended the regular season ranked second in the NESCAC in scoring offense (78.4), while holding down the third spot in field goal percentage defense (.398) this season. The Panthers lead the nation with 6.15 blocked shots/game. The Panthers have also scored more points (2,039) and made more three-pointers (232) than any other season in the 91-year history of the program.

Five of Middlebury's seven losses this season came against teams who are participating in this year's NCAA Tournament. The Panthers scored 80 or more 11 times, broke 90 seven times, and topped 100 points twice (with a high of 113 vs. Merchant Marine in their season opener). Seven opponents failed to break 60 points vs. Middlebury this season.

Andrew Harris leads the team in scoring this season with 15.1 points/game, while pacing the team with 65 three-point field goals made. The senior is second on the school's all-time list with 182 made from behind the arc. Harris missed seven games with an injury this season, but has returned to the line-up strong. Last weekend, he poured in 24 points on 8 of 14 shooting in the NESCAC semifinal contest with Trinity. The senior is also a two-time District I Academic All-American selection by CoSIDA (College Sports Information Directors Association).

Aaron Smith is second on the squad in scoring (13.8 ppg) while leading the team with 8.5 rebounds/game, placing him second in the league. The junior shoots a league-best .627 from the floor, sixth nationally. Smith has six double-doubles this season and has scored 20+ points on five different occasions.

Ben Rudin is the team's point guard, leading the squad with 4.2 assists/game, while scoring 10.4/contest. The junior has three or more assists in 20 of 26 games, including nine in a win over St. Lawrence. He is fourth on the school's all-time list with 327 helpers this season.

Sophomore Tim Edwards paces the team and is fourth in the league with 1.69 steals/game, while scoring 8.0/contest. Edwards has been in double figures in scoring 10 times this season, including back-to-back 20-point efforts vs. Colby-Sawyer and Johnson.

Senior Mike Walsh rounds out the starting five for the Panthers. The 6-5, 250-pounder averages 8.1 points/game, while pulling down 6.6 boards/game, second only to Smith. Walsh has scored in double-digits nine times this season, while doing the same five times in the rebounding column.

First-year player Ashton Coghlan is the top scorer off the bench, averaging 9.1 points/game, knocking down almost 47 percent of his three's, which, if holds, would be a new single-season record at Middlebury. The rookie exploded for 31 points in a win over Union this season, netting 23 at Bates on February 9th.

Junior Kyle Dudley (7.2 ppg), senior Albert Handy (4.0 ppg), sophomore Kevin Kelleher (3.0 ppg) and rookie Andrew Locke (2.2 ppg), the conference's leading shot blocker (2.0/game), round out the major contributors off the bench. Dudley scored 28 at Johnson State, Handy netted 13 in a NESCAC Tournament win over Williams, Kelleher scored 10 in a regular season win at Williams, while Locke has three or more blocks in a game nine times this season.

This will be the third all-time meeting between Middlebury and the University of Rochester. The Yellowjackets were 79-67 victors over the Panthers back in '89-'90, while earning a 39-25 win in the '22-'23 season.

Rochester is making its 12th NCAA Tournament appearance, entering the game with a 20-5 record. The Yellowjackets started the year 14-0 and spent six weeks ranked number one in Division III. Three of the team's five losses came in overtime and all five were by less than 10 points.

The Yellowjacket senior class reached the NCAA Division III Championship Game in their freshman year and played in the first round of the tournament last season. Robert Dominiak tops the club in scoring at 15.1 points per game, while Uche Ndubizu is second nationally in field goal percentage at 66% with 13.1 points per game. Jon Onyiriuka gets 12.3 points per game and shares rebounding honors with Ndubizu (7.6 rpg.).

Friday, March 7th at University of Rochester
Farmingdale St. (22-5) vs. Penn St.-Behrend (23-4) - 6:00 p.m.
Middlebury (19-7) @ Rochester (20-5) - 8:00 p.m.

Saturday, March 8th at University of Rochester
Regional Final - 7:00 p.m.