Middlebury outscored visiting Hamilton 35-20 in the final two quarters, turning a six-point halftime deficit into a 53-44 NESCAC victory Friday in Pepin Gym. With the win, Middlebury clinched the No. 4 seed and earned the right to host a NESCAC Quarterfinal game next Saturday. The Panthers (17-6, 6-3) return to the court on Saturday when they host top-ranked Amherst at 3:00 p.m. in the regular-season finale, while the Continentals (14-9, 2-7) travel to Williams for a game at the same time.
Tied at 4-4 in the first quarter, the Continentals went on an 11-0 run, spanning 6:41 of action for a 15-4 advantage with 1:42 remaining. A free throw from Maya Davis and a layup from Catherine Harrison for the Panthers, sandwiched around a jumper by Hamilton's Rylie Mainville, made the score 17-7 in favor of the Continentals after one quarter.
In the second, the hosts tallied the opening six points, cutting the deficit to 17-13 on a charity toss by Davis with 6:15 left. After a free throw from Sarah Kaufman pulled Middlebury to within three (19-16) a little more than three minutes later, the Continentals scored five of the final seven points of the half for a 24-18 lead at the break.
Out of the locker room, Lauren Getman increased the Hamilton lead to nine on a three in the visitors' opening possession. The Panthers clawed back into the contest, outscoring Hamilton 14-2 over the next eight minutes, limiting the Continentals to 1-6 shooting from the floor and forcing nine turnovers. Middlebury gained its first lead on a three from the left wing by Kaufman with 3:30 showing on the clock. The Panther advantage grew to 37-33 on a free throw in the last second of the third from Harrison.
In the final quarter, Hamilton sliced the deficit to one (41-40) with 6:44 left on a jumper by Mia Caterisano. The Panthers tallied the ensuing seven points, holding the Continentals without a point over a span of 5:30, for a 48-40 lead on a pair of free throws by Davis with 1:14 remaining. Middlebury converted 5-6 charity tosses over the final minute en route to the 53-44 win.
Harrison paced the Panthers with a season-best 13 points on 6-9 shooting from the floor, while Sabrina Weeks added 10 points and four steals. Davis tallied nine points and seven rebounds, while Colleen Caveney chipped in with seven points, seven rebounds and three assists. Lily Kuntz added five points and a game-best three blocked shots. Kaufman finished with five points, giving her 1,055 for her career and moving her into sixth place in the program's history past Lauren Brown '98 (1,052).
Getman led all scorers with 16 points to go along with seven rebounds. Samantha Srinivasan had 10 points and eight rebounds, while Halie Serbent yanked down a game-best nine boards.