Men's Basketball Holds Off Wesleyan

January 14, 2012

Undefeated and top-ranked Middlebury built a 60-51 lead with 3:52 to play and withstood a late Wesleyan rally earning a 65-62 decision in Connecticut on Saturday. The win pushed the Panthers' record to 14-0 overall, 4-0 in NESCAC play, as Wesleyan fell to 12-4 on the season, 2-2 in league action.

Holding a tenuous 48-47 advantage with 12:39 on the clock, Middlebury got a three–pointer from Nolan Thompson, followed by a bucket from Dylan Sinnickson to extend its lead to 53-47 with 9:27 left.  When Joey Kizel canned a trey at the 6:25 mark, Middlebury led 56-49.

After a James Jensen free throw made it 60-51 for the visitors at 3:52, Wesleyan scored on six consecutive possessions with Derick Beresford accounting for six points.  When Cardinal Mike Callaghan scored on a layup off the sixth assist of the contest by Shasha Brown with 16 seconds left  to play, Wesleyan trimmed the margin to a lone point, 63-62.  Kizel was fouled with :08.1 to go and calmly sank a pair at the line to bump the margin back to three, 65-62.

Looking for a three-pointer to tie, Wesleyan never got the chance as the Panthers took a smart foul with :03.4 to go.  Brown missed the first attempt, then purposely missed the second, but Middlebury's Ryan Sharry grabbed his game-high 11th rebound and tossed the ball the length of the floor to kill the remaining seconds.

Neither team led by more than four points during a nip-and-tuck first half which ended in Wesleyan's favor, 34-33.  The Cardinals pulled out to their largest lead of the game early in the second half, 42-38, before Middlebury took the lead for good on a three-pointer by Kizel to break a 43-43 deadlock at the 15:40 mark, putting the Panthers ahead, 46-43.

Kizel led his squad with 16 points while Sharry added 14 and Jensen chipped in with 13, as Jake Wolfin paced the Panthers with five assists. Callaghan led all scorers with 18 and had a team-high five rebounds, as Brown and Beresford each had a dozen points for the Cardinals.

Both teams shot well from the field as Middlebury connected on 55 percent of their shots, while Wesleyan hit 51 percent.  The Cardinals faltered at the line, making 5-of-13 while Middlebury was good for 14-of-20 from the charity stripe.

Middlebury puts its winning streak and top-ranked status on the line again at home on Tuesday evening, hosting high-scoring Castleton State in a non-conference affair. The Spartans rank third nationally in scoring, averaging over 94 points per game.