Middlebury utilized a 20-9 second-half run over a span of 6:56 and held off a late charge for a 70-66 NESCAC win over #11 Williams on Saturday in Pepin Gym. The 16th-ranked Panthers (13-3, 4-1) return to action tomorrow when they travel to Pine Manor at 2:00 p.m., while the Ephs (13-4, 3-2) host St. Joseph's (Vt.) on Monday at 7:00 p.m.
Both teams struggled to find their respective shooting touches in the opening 10 minutes of play. Clinging to a 14-13 lead with 10:11 left, the Ephs rattled off a 7-0 run spanning 2:41, capped on a tip-in by Matthew Karpowicz at the 7:30 mark. The Panthers responded with 12 of the next 14 points, completed by a free throw from Nick Tarantino, for a 25-23 edge with 1:42 left. The teams traded baskets over the final few minutes, before Matt Folger drilled a three-point field goal from the left corner as the halftime buzzer sounded for a 31-28 lead.
Out of the break, the hosts scored on their initial possession via a Tarantino dunk. Williams cut the deficit to a pair (33-31) on an old-fashioned three-point play from Michael Kempton on the next possession. Six quick points from Hilal Dahleh on a three and a layup and free throw gave the hosts an eight-point lead at 39-31.
The Panther advantage hovered between five and eight over the ensuing four minutes. Up by six (46-40), Middlebury put together the decisive 20-9 run, highlighted by six points apiece from Jack Daly and Eric McCord, for its largest lead of the contest (66-49) with 7:10 on the clock.
Williams slowly began its furious comeback attempt, utilizing a 17-2 run over the next 6:46 to move within two (68-66) on a jumper in the paint from Bobby Casey with 24 seconds left. On the inbound, Daly fired a pass to McCord who worked his way behind the Eph press on the run for the final points of the contest.
Joey Leighton and Dahleh led the Panthers with 16 points apiece, a career-best point total for Leighton. McCord tacked on eight points and five rebounds, while Daly and Folger each had seven points. Folger added team-high marks of eight boards and four blocked shots, including a thrilling stuff on a dunk attempt in the opening half. Daly finished with a game-high 11 assists and four steals to go along with seven rebounds, while Tarantino had seven boards and five points for the hosts.
James Heskett paced the Ephs with a game-high 19 points, while Casey added 15 points including four threes. Mike Greenman was the third player in double figures with 11 points to go along with three assists, while Karpowicz had a near double-double of eight points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
The Panthers had advantages in bench points (32-16), points in the paint (40-24) and second-chance points (14-5).