Middlebury's Jack Daly tallied his second triple-double of the season, leading the Panthers to an 83-63 victory Friday over Lebanon Valley in the first round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. The game was played in Eastern Connecticut State's Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium. Middlebury will play the 10th-ranked Warriors, a 75-59 winner over Johnson & Wales (R.I.), in Saturday's regional final at 7:00 p.m. The 18th-ranked Panthers improved to 20-6 with the victory, marking the eight time in the last 11 years the program has reached the 20-win plateau. The Dutchmen cap their season at 18-10.
Middlebury scored the initial 10 points over the opening 2:11 of play in the back-and-forth opening half. The Dutchmen responded with a 19-5 run over the next seven minutes of action, capped on a three-point shot from Caleb Barwin with 10:46 remaining. The Panthers answered with a 9-0 spurt of their own, grabbing a 24-19 advantage on a pair of free throws from Nick Tarantino with 8:06 left. Lebanon Valley chipped away at the deficit, tying the score at 26-26 on a jumper by Andy Orr.
Middlebury scored five quick points on a jumper from Eric McCord and a three from Jack Farrell. The Dutchmen tallied 10 of the ensuing 14 points, taking a one-point edge (36-35) on a layup from Orr with 1:26 remaining. Middlebury scored the final five points of the stanza on a three from Joey Leighton and a layup by Daly in the waning seconds for a 40-36 halftime edge.
In the second half, the Panther lead hovered between two and six over the first seven minutes, as a tip-in from Matt Folger gave Middlebury a 52-46 edge with 13:05 left. The Panthers rattled off the decisive 16-3 run over the next 7:23, highlighted by nine points from Folger, for a 68-49 lead with 6:42 showing on the clock. That lead grew to as many as 23 (83-60) on a layup by James Finn in the final seconds, cruising to the 20-point win.
Daly's second triple-double of the season yielded 13 points, 11 rebounds and a career-high tying 14 assists to go along with three steals. His 13 points moved him four spots up the program's record books into a tie for 16th place, joining Fain Hackney '83 with 1,035. Folger led the Panthers with 14 points to go along with six rebounds and a pair of blocked shots, while McCord was the third player in double figures with 12 points on 6-7 shooting in just 14 minutes off the bench. Adisa Majors and Leighton each chipped in with eight points, while Majors yanked down six boards.
Orr posted a double-double with a game-high 18 points to go along with 10 rebounds and a game-best four blocks, while Sam Light added 14 points and six rebounds for Lebanon Valley. Barwin added nine points, while Zach Tucker netted eight.
Middlebury finished the game shooting 43.4 percent (33-76) from the floor, while the Dutchmen connected on 38.9 percent (21-54). The Panthers held advantages in rebounding (49-29), including 21 offensive boards, as well as points in the paint (42-18), bench points (38-22), fastbreak points (18-2) and points off turnovers (23-11). Middlebury also handed out 21 assists on 33 made baskets.