Fueled by a career-high 26 points from Jack Daly, including four in the final 16 seconds, 16th-ranked Middlebury (10-3, 2-1) tallied a come-from-behind 82-76 NESCAC victory Friday over Bates in Pepin Gym. The Panthers continue league play on Saturday when they host Tufts at 3:00 p.m., while the Bobcats (8-7, 1-2) visit #4 Williams at the same time.
The opening 10 minutes of the first half saw seven lead changes and three ties. Ahead by one (18-17) with 9:58 on the clock, Bates put together an 8-0 run over a span of 2:57, capped by a pair of free throws by James Mortimer, for a 26-17 lead. Middlebury responded with an 8-0 spurt of its own, cutting the deficit to one on two free throws from Daly with just under six minutes remaining.
Clinging to a two-point edge at 32-30, the Bobcats rattled off an 11-1 run for their largest lead of the contest at 12 on a charity toss from Max Hummel at the 1:35 mark. The hosts scored the final four points of the stanza, including a jumper at the buzzer from Joey Leighton, to pull within eight (43-35) at the break.
Middlebury opened the second half with a 13-5 run, tying the game at 48-48 on a three by Hilal Dahleh with 16:34 left. Holding a two-point advantage (54-52), a three-point field goal and layup from Griffin Kornaker pushed the Panther lead to seven with less than 11 minutes showing on the clock. Bates chipped away the deficit over the next few minutes, moving to within a point (71-70) on two free throws from Jeff Spellman with 2:32 left.
Trailing by one at 77-76 with 25 seconds left, the Bobcats were forced to foul. Matt Folger sank the first one, but missed the second. Daly scrapped for the loose-ball rebound, putting it back in for an 80-76 lead. Following a missed three by Bates, Daly was fouled and sank two free throws for the final score.
Daly led the Panthers with a game-high nine rebounds and eight assists in addition to his 26 points. Folger finished with 15 points and six boards, while Nick Tarantino chipped in with 10 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots. Eric McCord pulled down eight rebounds and added three blocks off the bench.
Spellman paced the Bobcats with 21 points and six assists. Moritmer contributed 20 points and six rebounds, while Hummel scored 13 points. Nick Lynch yanked down a team-high eight boards for the Bobcats.
The Panthers owned a 45-28 rebounding advantage, including a 26-9 deficit after the break. Middlebury shot 53.6 percent (30-56) from the floor in the win, including 64.3 percent (18-28) in the final 20 minutes, while limiting the visitors to 41.5 percent (27-65).