The Middlebury men's basketball team fell by an 80-70 score on Saturday afternoon at #14 Wesleyan (10-2, 1-1) in Silloway Gym. The fourth-ranked Panthers (8-3, 1-1) pulled to within three in the final minute, but the Cardinals knocked down their free throws to seal the win. The Panthers return to action on Monday with a 5:00 p.m. home tip-off against Morrisville State.
The Cardinals jumped out to a 7-2 advantage, capped off by a layup by Kevin O'Brien with 17:12 left in the opening half. Middlebury went on a 6-0 run to take its first lead of the game at the 15:05 mark following a basket by Nick Tarantino.
The contest went back and forth for the next few minutes until a pair of foul shots from Nathan Krill with 8:39 to play gave the hosts a 21-19 advantage. With time running out, Austin Hutcherson found Krill in the corner for a three as the clock expired to give Wesleyan a 40-32 halftime lead.
Out of the break, Middlebury went on a 9-2 run over the first 1:48, cutting the deficit to one on a three-pointer by Jack Farrell. The Cardinal lead hovered between one and five over the next few minutes, before a three at the 11:34 mark from Jack Daly put the Panthers ahead by a 55-54 score. The lead was the first for the visitors since the opening minutes of the first half.
Wesleyan responded with an 11-0 run over the next 3:34, capped off by a steal and fast break lay-up from Hutcherson for a 65-55 lead with 8:00 remaining. Back-to-back three-pointers by Matt Folger brought the visitors to within four (67-63). Wesleyan responded again with six of the next seven points, claiming a nine-point lead (73-64) on two free throws by O'Brien with 1:36 on the clock.
The Panthers put together a quick 6-0 spurt, cutting the margin to three (73-70) with 47 seconds remaining on a free throw by Daly, but the Cardinals hit 7-10 foul shots to seal the victory.
Daly led all players with a game-high 21 points to go along with a season-best 15 rebounds and eight assists. Hilal Dahleh scored nine points, while Folger, Joey Leighton and Adisa Majors each tallied eight, respectively. Folger added eight boards and a pair of blocked shots.
Krill paced three Cardinals in double figures with 14 points, including 4-4 from beyond the arc, while Hutcherson and Bascom added 13 and 12. O'Brien and Hutcherson dished out five and four assists, while David Dixon recorded eight boards as well as six points.