Middlebury scored the game's final 18 points as the Panthers overcame a 17-point deficit in the second half on their way to a 60-49 road victory Wednesday at Castleton (9-8). Middlebury trailed 37-20 midway through the third quarter and finished the game by outscoring the Spartans 40-12. The Panthers (14-3) return to NESCAC play on Saturday, traveling to Hamilton for a 3:00 p.m. tip-off.
Middlebury got off to an early lead, scoring a pair of buckets from beyond the three-point arc. Betsy Knox hit a trey for the Panthers on the initial possession of the contest, while Kira Waldman hit the other as the guests led 6-5. The hosts went on a 10-1 run in a span covering just over four minutes, with Lindsay Sabo sparking the Spartans during that burst with two three-pointers. Middlebury's Alex Huffman scored the final points of the period with 2:33 on the clock as the hosts led 15-9 after the opening quarter.
In the second stanza, Castleton pushed the difference to double digits (30-13) with a 15-4 run. The Panthers trimmed to margin to 30-17 before the half when Lily Kuntz sank two free throws and Maya Davis hit a lay-up in the final minute before the break.
After the Spartans forged a 37-20 lead just under three minutes into the third quarter, Catherine Harrison helped Middlebury chip away at the deficit. She scored nine points over the final 7:03, including the team's final six, as the Panthers closed to within 10 points (42-32) with 10 minutes remaining.
The Panthers made it a five-point game (47-42) with four minutes left in the fourth quarter when Waldman converted a traditional three-point play. Taylor Raiche answered with a jumper for Castleton with 3:31 left in the game, but those were the final points the hosts scored. Harrison tallied from the foul line with 2:10 left, making it a one-point difference, before a three-pointer from Knox the next time down the floor game gave the guests the lead at 51-49. Middlebury got another bucket from Waldman and then scored its final seven points from the charity stripe with its biggest margin coming at the final horn.
Waldman paced all scorers with a career-high 24 points for the Panthers and added six rebounds. Harrison netted 11 points and snared seven boards, while Huffman finished with seven points and seven rebounds.
Beatty topped the Spartans with 13 points and Makayla Farrara finished with 11. Ashlie Fay had a balanced contest with seven points, six rebounds and six assists.
Middlebury's defense held an opponent to less than 50 points for the 12th time this season, limiting Castleton to 37 percent shooting (17-46). The Panthers converted 16-48 (33.3 percent) from the floor and held a 38-26 advantage on the glass.