Middlebury's Catherine Harrison scored with 17.3 seconds remaining to break a 47-47 score as the Panthers went on for a 52-47 victory over Skidmore Saturday in Pepin Gymnasium. Middlebury improves to 6-1 on the season and is idle until December 30 when it faces Springfield at the Hampton Inn West Springfield/Naismith Classic, while the Thoroughbreds (3-5) host Vassar the same day.
Middlebury grabbed the early lead before Skidmore took its first advantage at 8-6 on a traditional three-point play by Kelly Donnelly. The Panthers battled back for a 12-11 lead at the end of the quarter as Colleen Caveney scored 10 of the team's points.
In the second quarter, the Thoroughbreds jumped back in front at 19-18, following a three pointer by Donnelly and a bucket in the paint by Maja Stjepanovic. Middlebury countered with a modest 7-0 burst when Harrison scored in the paint and Sarah Kaufman and Sabrina Weeks each hit from behind the three-point arc for a 26-19 advantage. The hosts led 30-24 at the half, thanks to a layup from Alex Huffman in the closing seconds.
Skidmore used an 8-2 run at the start of the third quarter to pull even at 32-32. Ari Fustini and Donnelly each sank three pointers, helping them tie the game. A trey by Middlebury's Lily Kuntz and a basket in the paint by Betsy Knox quickly catapulted the hosts back into the lead with 4:11 remaining. After the Thoroughbreds led 39-38 in the final minute, Weeks knocked down her second three-pointer of the game in the final seconds for a 41-39 lead with 10 minutes left to play.
The visitors scored the first six points of the final frame with Haley English accounting for each of them for a 45-41 edge. The Panthers scored their first points of the quarter on an offensive basket by Caveney and free throws by Knox and Kaufman to tie the game 45-45 with 2:44 on the clock.
Veronica Moceri gave Skidmore a 47-45 lead with two foul shots with 2:42 remaining, but Knox hitting a running jumper on the baseline, tying the contest for the final time two minutes later. On Middlebury's next possession, Harrison snared an offensive rebound and sank the layup, putting her team in front for good at 49-47.
The Panthers didn't allow the Thoroughbreds a chance to get even, forcing turnovers on the next two possessions, while Knox made three free throws in the last 10 seconds for the 52-47 final.
Caveney led the Panthers with 15 points, while Knox netted 10. Harrison just missed a double-double with eight points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
For Skidmore, Donnelly led the way with 12 points and nine rebounds, while Fustini posted 11 points and four boards.
Middlebury's defense, ranked seventh nationally heading into the game (43.3 points against per game), held an opponent under 50 points for the fifth time in seven contests.