The Middlebury men's basketball team fought off a late comeback attempt by Johnson State, earning an 84-77 victory over the Badgers (1-2) on Tuesday in Carter Gym. Playing their third game in five days, the eighth-ranked Panthers (3-0) return to action on Sunday with a 2:00 p.m. contest at Endicott.
The game was close in the early minutes with neither team possessing larger than a three-point lead over the first 7:19 of play. Trailing by two (16-14) with 12:41 left in the opening half, Middlebury rattled off a 15-0 run over the ensuing 6:05 of action, capped off by a layup from Jack Daly. The Panther lead grew to as many as 17 on three different occasions in the opening half, including a 44-27 bulge with one minute remaining on a layup from Ryan Cahill. Neither team scored over the final 60 seconds, as the visitors led by 17 at the half.
Out of the break, Middlebury moved its lead to 21 (53-32) with 16:21 remaining on a three-point make from Daly. The Badgers slowly chipped away at the Panther advantage over the next 9:02, cutting it to eight (66-58) on a basket by Marqwon Wynn. The visitors came back with six-consecutive points, pushing the lead to 14 on a layup by Daly.
Johnson State sliced the deficit to nine on a Wynn layup and a three from Alexander Vetere, but a jumper from Adisa Majors and a Daly layup increased the advantage back to double figures at 76-63 with 4:11 left. The Panthers held off a late comeback attempt from the Badgers for the seven-point win.
Daly paced the Panthers with a near triple-double of 24 points, a career-high 16 rebounds to go along with eight assists and three steals. Matt Folger also had a double-double consisting of 21 points and 12 rebounds as well as four assists.
Wynn led all players with 29 points on 13-19 shooting from the field, while Shakeel Irvin added 16 points and a game-high eight blocked shots. Demetrius Slade had a solid all-around game with eight points, five rebounds and five assists.
The Panthers held a decided 62-31 rebounding advantage and held a 24-10 edge in bench scoring.