Late Run Propels Middlebury to Naismith Classic Title

The Panthers pose for a team photo following their tournament victory on Saturday. (photo courtesy of Springfield Sports Communications)
The Panthers pose for a team photo following their tournament victory on Saturday. (photo courtesy of Springfield Sports Communications)

Middlebury outscored Roger Williams by a 16-5 count over the final 5:07 on its way to a 52-47 victory over the Hawks (5-4) to capture the Hampton Inn West Springfield/Naismith Classic hosted by Springfield. The Panthers (8-1) recorded their fifth-straight win and return to action on Tuesday when travel to Smith for a 4:00 p.m. contest.

Middlebury's Sarah Kaufman was selected as the tournament's Most Valuable Player, finishing the two contests with 35 points, including a season-best 21 in the championship game. Colleen Caveney (32 points, nine rebounds, six steals), who tallied 25 points in Friday's victory over Springfield, also earned a spot on the all-tournament team for her effort during the two games.

The Panthers clung to a one-point lead at 11-10 after one quarter of play. Catherine Harrison paced the Middlebury offense with four points during the period, while Kaufman added three.

The second quarter featured a defensive struggle as Roger Williams took an 18-17 edge into the halftime intermission. The Hawks scored eight points on 3-13 shooting from the floor for 23.1 percent, while Middlebury was limited to six points going 3-16 (18.8 percent).

Out of the break, neither team grabbed more than a three-point edge in the third quarter as the two squads traded small runs. With the score knotted at 31-31, Stephanie Bramante gave the Hawks a three-point lead on a three-point field goal with nine seconds left.

The fourth quarter saw the Hawks grab their largest lead of the contest at 42-36 on a layup from Gabby Jerahian with 5:07 remaining, but a 9-2 run over the next four minutes, capped off by a fastbreak layup from Caveney gave the Panthers the lead for good at 45-44 with 56 seconds remaining. Middlebury knocked down 7-8 free throws over the final minute, including a perfect 4-4 from Betsy Knox, to seal the five-point win.

In addition to Kaufman's 21 points, Harrison was also in double figures with 14 points on 7-11 shooting to go along with eight rebounds. Caveney finished with seven points, six rebounds and a game-best four steals, while Alex Huffman grabbed a team-high nine boards to go with four points.

Bridget Quilty led Roger Williams with 17 points and seven rebounds, while Anna Walther chipped in with eight points. Mariah Nicholas yanked down six rebounds off the bench for the Hawks.