Men's Basketball Tops Conn. - Will Host NESCAC Championship Weekend

February 21, 2009

Ben Rudin tied his career-high with 29 points to lead Middlebury to a 78-62 win over Connecticut College in a NESCAC Quarterfinal game. The Panthers will host the NESCAC semifinals and finals next Saturday and Sunday in Pepin Gym. Middlebury will host Bowdoin at 2:00 p.m., while Amherst meets Williams at 4:00 p.m. The winners will meet on Sunday at noon for the NESCAC Championship. Today's game was played in front of a jam-packed crowd of 1,031 fans in Pepin Gym.

Connecticut College led 5-4 early on a three-point play from Ulises Veras. Middlebury then went on a tear, scoring 17 of the game's next 19 points to take a 21-7 lead with 14:15 left in the game. Rudin scored eight straight points to open the run, including a three. Following a pair of Andrew Locke free throws, Kyle Dudley knocked down two threes before Rudin ended the run with a lay-up. The Panthers went on a quick 7-0 spurt shortly after that, sparked by two buckets off the bench from Ryan Sharry and a three from Rudin to make it a 28-9 game.

The Camels battled back late in the half with a 9-2 run, cutting the lead to 16 on a pair of free throws from Billy Karis with 4:22 remaining. Middlebury answered and extended the lead to 23 on a buzzer-beater from Jamal Davis to close the first half with a 46-23 lead. Rudin ended the half with 21 points and four assists on 9 of 14 shooting, as the Panthers held a 22-12 edge on the boards.

Middlebury kept up the pressure in the second half, with some big plays from Locke. Rudin found Locke for a dunk at 16:52, followed by another dunk at the 15:05 mark. Matt Westman then fed the 6-10 center as Locke put down an emphatic dunk to make it a 55-45 game. Locke blocked a shot on the other end of the floor, while Westman hit a three to put the Panthers up by 24. The advantage grew to a game-high 27 on a pair of Westman free throws with 12:55 left to play.

Connecticut College would not go away as they began to chip away, including a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 63-49 at the 7:08 mark. Demetrius Porter scored five during the run, including a three-point play. The Camels kept coming, cutting the lead to 11 on a three from Veras with 2:39 left to play. Middlebury sunk 9 of 12 free throws down the stretch to emerge with a 79-62 win.

Rudin ended the day with a game-high 29 points on 10 of 21 shooting, to go along with six boards and five assists. He is now seventh all-time at Middlebury with 1,143 points. Locke ended the day with 14 points, seven rebounds and four blocks on 6-7 shooting from the floor. Westman added 10 points, while Aaron Smith grabbed eight boards. Porter led the Camels with 23 points, seven rebounds and four steals, while Bill Karis scored 11.