Men's Basketball To Host Ithaca In NCAA Game - Game Is Sold Out!

March 15, 2013

The Middlebury College men's basketball team will host a third-round game on Saturday, March 16th at 4:00 p.m. in Pepin Gym. The Panthers will take on Ithaca, with the winner advancing to next weekend's round of eight in Salem, Va. The Panthers enter the weekend with a 24-3 mark, going 13-1 in Pepin Gym this season. Tickets are priced at $7 for adults, $4 for students and are on sale now. CLICK HERE to purchase online. You may also call 802-443-6433 or stop by the McCullough or Mahaney box offices during normal business hours. 

Last weekend, Middlebury earned a 67-63 road win at Cortland. The Panthers took a 36-27 lead into the halftime break by scoring 19 of the half’s final 23 points. Middlebury extended its lead in the second half before the Red Dragons went on a 17-2 run to take a 55-48 lead. The Panthers chipped away and won the same with some solid free throw shooting down the stretch. Joey Kizel finished with 22 points on 7-12 shooting with four assists, while James Jensen netted 13 with a team-high 11 rebounds. Peter Lynch added 10 points in the win, while Nolan Thompson scored eight.

 In their first-round win, Middlebury never trailed as they earned a 68-66 win over Curry in Pepin Gym. Curry cut the Panther lead to one several times in the second half, but could not overtake Middlebury. Lynch led Middlebury with 17 points on 5-10 shooting from the field and 7-8 from the line, while Kizel and Thompson each netted a baker’s dozen. Jake Wolfin had a game-high six assists and team-high nine rebounds, as Kizel chipped in five helpers. Jack Roberts finished with a game-best five blocks in 25 minutes of action to go along with six boards.

Middlebury is making its sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, earning an at-large bid after falling in the NESCAC semifinals. The Panthers had advanced to the NESCAC title game in the previous four years, with championships in ’09 and ’11.

Middlebury is 8-5 in NCAA play, earning their first bid in ’08. Middlebury advanced to the second round in ’09 before hosting a regional in ’10 where they fell in the finals. The ’11 season was a record-breaking one, as the Panthers advanced to the final four before falling to St. Thomas in the semifinals. The following season, the team hosted and won an NCAA Regional, falling in the round of 16 in a sectional they hosted on campus.

Middlebury has dropped just three games this season, two of them coming in overtime and the other by a point on the road. The Panthers were ranked seventh in the final regular season D3Hoops.com poll. Middlebury is third in the NESCAC with 78.7 points/game, a .491 field goal percentage, while shooting .742 from the line.

Nolan Thompson is the NESCAC’s Defensive Player of the Year. The senior has shut down numerous opponent’s top scorers and was recently recognized with the honor. He is third on the team with 12.3 points/game, while ranking second with 5.2 rebounds/contest. The first-team All-NESCAC selection shoots 49% from the floor and became a 1,000-point scorer earlier this season.

Junior guard Joey Kizel is a two-time first-team All-NESCAC selection, who became the third player this season to surpass the 1,000 point plateau. He is second on the squad with 14.2 points/contest, while his 4.2 assists/game are second on the team and fifth in the NESCAC. Kizel paces the squad and is second in the league with 1.7 steals/game, while shooting 49.6% from the floor.

Senior forward Peter Lynch has taken great strides this season, leading the league and ranking sixth in the country with a .638 field goal percentage. Lynch paces the team in scoring with 15.3 points/game, and in rebounding with 5.3 boards/contest.

Junior point guard Jake Wolfin is the school’s all-time assists leader with 545. He averages 8.8 points game and also joined the 1,000-point club earlier this season. Wolfin’s 5.0 assists/game leads his team and places him third among his NESCAC peers.

Junior Jack Roberts leads the NESCAC in blocks with 2.3/game from his center position. He also averages 4.7 points and 4.1 rebounds/game while shooting 59.4% from the floor.

Senior James Jensen and sophomore Hunter Merryman both see quality time off the bench. Jensen averages 6.9 points and 4.4 rebounds/game, while Merryman is scoring 8.8/game, while shooting 49.4% from the floor. His .434 shooting percentage from behind the arc places him sixth in the NESCAC.

Jeff Brown is now in his 16th year at the helm of the Panthers (232-153), having previously served as the Bates bench boss for three seasons. He has led the team to six straight NCAA Tournament appearances with a combined record of 145-25 in that time. The team has also won a pair of NESCAC Championships (’09 & ’11) under his tenure, with Brown earning NESCAC Coach of the Year honors in ’09, ’11 and ’12.

A 1982 graduate of the University of Vermont, Brown scored more than 1,000 points and earned induction into the university's Athletic Hall of Fame during his Catamount basketball career. He is 10th on the all-time scoring list (1,336 points), second in steals (170), seventh in assists (428), eighth in field goals made (526), and ninth in free throws made (284). While playing at UVM, Brown averaged 12.7 points and 4.1 assists per game. He spent three years as the top assistant basketball coach at Manhattan College in New York, before returning to his alma mater as an assistant coach for nine years (1985-94).

Ithaca is making its 12th NCAA Tournament, entering the game with a record of 21-8. The Bombers earned an 87-77 first-round win at Springfield before topping Rochester 70-68 on the road last weekend. The teams only have one common opponent, with Ithaca suffering an 84-67 loss at Cortland back on November 27th. The Bombers are led in scoring by Travis Warech (16.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg) and Frank Mitchell (14.9 ppg, 6.4 rpg).

2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament
Third-Round, Saturday, March 16th
Ithaca (21-8) @ Middlebury (24-3) - 4:00 p.m.