Men’s Basketball Perfect in Three Games This Week

Connor Huff scored a career-high 20 during Tuesday's win.
Connor Huff scored a career-high 20 during Tuesday's win.

The Middlebury men’s basketball team tallied a perfect 3-0 record during a trio of games last week. The Panthers cruised past Castleton on the road Tuesday by a 94-56 score. Middlebury returned home and jumped back into NESCAC action Friday with a convincing 97-60 victory over Wesleyan, and held off a late comeback attempt Sunday by Connecticut College, 63-59.

On Tuesday, junior Connor Huff (New York, N.Y.) scored a career-high 20 points as the Middlebury men's basketball team landed 11 players in the scoring column during the win.

Castleton, who trailed by just eight at halftime, connected on 44.1 percent of its shots in the opening half but went just 3-28 in the second and were outrebounded 59-37 overall. The Panthers shot 43.2 percent for the game and recorded 26 second-chance points, most of which came in the second half. Middlebury, who is ranked 12th nationally in assists per game, recorded helpers on 26 of its 32 field goals.

Chad Copeland led two players in double figures for the Spartans, scoring 17 points and pulling down eight rebounds, while Rob Coloutti added 11 points and five boards. Carnelius Green chipped in with seven points, seven rebounds, two blocks and two steals, while Tondi Mushandu went for nine points and four assists without a turnover.

Huff's 20 points led three players in double figures for the Panthers. Senior Dylan Sinnickson (Sands Point, N.Y.) added 17 points and nine rebounds, while sophomore Matt St. Amour (Swanton, Vt.) recorded 10 points and five assists. Running the offense, sophomore Jake Brown (Hawley, Pa.) tied a career-high total with nine assists and added seven rebounds.

Both teams started the game with the shooting touch. After falling behind 12-7 early, the Spartans went on a 7-0 run to go ahead 14-12 on a Coloutti triple with 13:22 left in the half.

Sinnickson tied the game up 18 seconds later and the two teams traded baskets until a free throw from Mushandu pulled Castleton within one, 20-19 with 9:00 minutes remaining. Middlebury pushed its lead to six, 29-23, but another three from Coloutti kept it close.

The Panthers tried to extend their advantage against the Spartans, but Coloutti connected on another triple with 4:45 left to make it 34-31. However, Sinnickson responded with a shot from beyond the arc seven seconds later to jump-start a 12-2 spurt to give Middlebury a 46-33 lead with 2:11 left. Castleton scored the final five points of the half and trailed 46-38 at the break.

Just 1:21 into the second half, a triple from Green closed the game to 48-41. However, the Spartans missed their next shot and Middlebury responded with the next 13 points, punctuated by an alley-oop from Brown to Sinnickson. Mushandu ended the run at 14:32 to cut the deficit to 61-43, but a 12-3 run over the next six minutes pushed the Panther advantage to 73-46 with 8:29 left.  Both teams subbed over the final eight minutes, as Middlebury slowly extended its lead and finished with the 94-56 win.

In Friday’s win, Brown finished with a career-high with 14 assists and Sinnickson collected his ninth double-double of the season as Middlebury built a 27-point first-half lead en route to the decisive win.

After a slow start for both teams Wesleyan took its second and final lead of the game at the 11:22 mark on a pair of BJ Davis free throws. Trailing 14-13, the Panthers went on an 11-0 run before Wesleyan called a time-out at 8:10. On the spurt, junior Matt Daley (Fairfield, Conn.) flushed a dunk on a Brown assist to regain the lead, while senior Hunter Merryman (San Marino, Calif.) added six straight points before Sinnickson capped the run on a three-pointer for a 24-14 advantage that forced Wesleyan to call time-out.

Wesleyan's Joseph Kuo responded after the break, connecting on a traditional three-point play before the Panthers closed out the first half on a decisive 27-7 run. Rookie Nick Tarratino (Dedham, Mass.) led the run with seven points as Brown piled up six assists, including a set-up on a 35-foot buzzer-beater by St. Amour, giving the hosts a 51-24 halftime lead.

The Cardinals opened the second half with a bucket from Jack Mackey, but the Panthers added to their lead with a methodical 25-8 run over the next 6:20 of action, building a 76-34 advantage. St. Amour added eight points, while Sinnickson chipped in six during that span as Brown added two assists. The Cardinals did not threaten a comeback, but Davis did amaze the Middlebury crowd with a spectacular put-back dunk off a missed three-pointer late in the contest.

St. Amour led all players with 20 points, adding six assists and six rebounds, while Sinnickson scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for his double-double. Brown finished with his career-high 14 assists while committing no turnovers. Merryman chipped in a dozen points, as Huff and Tarantino each netted 11.

Davis led Wesleyan with 12 points on 5-11 shooting, while collecting five rebounds. Kuo finished with nine points and five boards, as Mackey added seven points, a team-high six rebounds and four assists.

For the game, Middlebury shot 12-28 from behind the arc, compared to 4-19 for Wesleyan.

On Sunday, neither team came out shooting well, as both squads struggled to find their range. Connecticut College held a 9-2 lead early on a three from Sean McNally. The Camels made just two of their first 10 shots, while the Panthers were 1-9. Middlebury scored the next seven points, including a three from Merryman to tie the game at 9-9 with 13:02 left in the first half.

Trailing 22-21, Middlebury went on a 9-0 run to take a 30-22 advantage with 1:30 remaining. Merryman drained three-straight shots from the line during the run, while junior Henry Pendergast (Bridgewater, Conn.) capped the spurt with a running left-hander. The Panthers took a 32-25 lead into the intermission with nine first-half points and rebounds from Merryman.

A three from Merryman early in the second half put Middlebury on top by 10 before the Camels went on a 6-0 spurt to make it a 35-31 game with 15:42 left. Leading by six with 7:45 remaining, the Panthers went on another 9-0 run to increase their lead to 53-38 at the 6:29 mark. The run was sparked by a three from Sinnickson and closed with a jumper from St. Amour.

A 7-0 run immediately followed for Connecticut College, including a three from Zuri Pavlin, as the Camels came within eight at 53-45. St. Amour countered with a long ball to put the advantage in double digits, but Connecticut College would not go away, chipping into the lead and finding an answer when Middlebury looked to pull away.

Late in the game, a conventional three-point play from McNally cut the Middlebury lead to 58-54 with 33 seconds remaining. St. Amour drained a pair of free throws on the other end of the court before Alex Hall converted to make it 60-56 with 15 seconds left. Brown made 1-2 for Middlebury from the charity stripe before a three from Hall made it a two-point game at 61-59 with five seconds remaining. Following a foul, Sinnickson calmly walked to the line and knocked down a pair to seal the game at 63-59 with four seconds left.

Merryman led all scorers with 15 points to go along with a team-high 12 rebounds, while St. Amour and sophomore Bryan Jones (Shelton, Conn.) each scored 11. Sinnickson added seven points and nine boards, while Brown dished out five assists.

Pavlin paced the Camels with 13 points to go along with a game-high 15 rebounds. Lee Messier scored 10 in the game, while Isiah Robinson had 10 points and nine rebounds.

Neither team seemed to find their range in the game, as the Panthers made 22-61 (.361) from the floor and 6-23 (.261) from behind the arc. The Camels were 23-71 (.324) in the game, going 5-22 (.227) from the line and 8-16 (.500) from the free throw line. The game saw 101 missed shots and 32 turnovers.

• Men’s basketball record: 12-2
• Up next: 1/20 vs. Johnson State – 7:00, 1/24 vs. Maine-Fort Kent – 1:00