The Middlebury women's basketball team capped off an unblemished NESCAC home weekend with a 77-60 victory over Wesleyan (8-4, 0-2) on Saturday in Pepin Gym. The Panthers (11-2, 2-0) are back in action on Tuesday when they entertain Castleton at 7:00 p.m., while the Cardinals are idle until Friday when they host Hamilton at 7:00 p.m.
The teams remained close through most of the first quarter that featured four ties and two lead changes. With three seconds remaining, a layup by Middlebury's Lily Kuntz knotted the game for the fourth time at 18-18.
The second quarter went back and forth over the opening five minutes, with neither team possessing larger than a three-point advantage. A layup by Maddie Bledsoe with 5:01 remaining gave the Cardinals a 28-25 lead. The Panthers rattled off a 9-2 run over the next 3:27, capped by a layup by Sarah Kaufman for a 34-30 edge. A basket by Wesleyan's Heidi Scarth and a free throw from Panther Sabrina Weeks gave the hosts a 35-32 halftime lead.
Out of the break, a jumper from Colleen Caveney on Middlebury's initial possession extended the lead to five. The Cardinals chipped away at the Panther advantage, cutting it to one on a layup from Scarth with 6:29 left. Middlebury responded with a 10-2 run covering 3:18 of action, including six points from Kaufman, for a 51-42 lead. A layup from Caveney as the buzzer sounded gave the Panthers a 10-point edge (56-46) heading into the final stanza.
A free throw shot by Maeve Vitale pulled the visitors to within nine (56-47) just under a minute into the final quarter. A jumper from Caveney pushed the Panther lead back to double digits with 7:44 left. The hosts grabbed their largest advantage of the contest (77-58) on a three by Kirsten Long in the final minute en route to the win.
Kuntz led 11 Middlebury players with a career-high 13 points to go along with seven rebounds, while Maya Davis had 12 points and Betsy Knox added 10. Alex Huffman finished with team-high eight rebounds, seven assists and three steals.
Scarth led the Cardinals with 13 points on a perfect 6-6 from the floor, while Tara Berger and Bledsoe both had 11. Chynna Bailey chipped in with a team-high seven rebounds, while Kadijah Mathews had a team-high four assists to go along with six points.