The Middlebury women’s basketball team tallied a 2-1 record in three contests this week. The Panthers defeated Potsdam State at home on Tuesday by a 65-53 score in a non-conference matchup. Middlebury then split a pair of road league games as the Panthers defeated Wesleyan 50-46 on Friday, but fell Sunday to Connecticut College, 54-35.
In Tuesday’s game, Middlebury rebounded from a loss for the fifth time this season as clutch free throw shooting down the stretch paced Middlebury, and its defense forced 21 turnovers on the night.
Middlebury held a 16-6 lead after 10 minutes of play on a lay-up from senior Alexis Coolidge (Jay, N.Y.). The Panther defense held Potsdam to 2-12 from the floor, including seven turnovers in that span. Sophomore Elizabeth Knox (Falmouth, Mass.) hit a two and a three early in the game to spark the run.
The lead grew to as many as 18 when rookie Sabrina Weeks (Los Altos, Calif.) connected after a feed from classmate Rachel Collins (Bedford, N.H.) to make it a 27-9 game with 4:07 remaining. Middlebury entered the halftime break with a 29-13 lead, as Potsdam was held to 5-25 (.200) shooting from the floor with a dozen turnovers.
Middlebury's lead grew to a game-high 20 points early in the second half on a put-back by senior Rachel Crews (South Burlington, Vt.). The advantage stood at 19 points when Potsdam went on an 8-0 run at the 11:04 mark of the second half. The spurt brought the Bears within 11 at 44-33 with 8:45 remaining.
Potsdam came within 10 before Crews stuck a three from the top of the key to put her team on top 53-40 with 6:03 on the clock. The Bears later received threes from Colleen McNamara and Bailey Weigel to cut the margin to 55-48 with 2:13 remaining. Potsdam was forced to foul the Panthers down the stretch, as Middlebury knocked down 10-10 from the line in the final 1:37 to seal the win.
Six of those 10 made free throws came from rookie Sarah Kaufman (Boulder, Colo.), who paced the team with 17 points, while adding seven rebounds, seven assists and three steals. Crews scored 16 on 6-12 shooting, Knox finished with nine, while Coolidge added eight.
Weigel led Potsdam with 17 points, while adding seven rebounds. Katie Lavoie netted 14 points on the night with a game-high 11 rebounds, while Veronica Sapp netted nine.
On Friday, Kaufman and Knox executed a nifty give-and-go layup in the final minute capping off a four-point NESCAC victory.
With 45 ticks showing on the second-half clock, Kaufman held the ball near the top of the key and dished off to Knox. Kaufman cut down the lane, received the return pass and scored giving the Panthers a four-point lead at 48-44. In the tightly-contested game, neither team led by more than six throughout the evening.
Wesleyan had the lead three times in the first half, all short-lived as Middlebury held the largest difference at 18-13 before settling for a 23-19 edge at halftime. Wesleyan scored the opening basket of the second half and continued to play catch-up before taking its first lead since early on at 36-34 with 11:22 left on a pair of Williams' free throws.
Middlebury took the lead for good, 40-38, when Weeks converted a traditional three-point play at the 7:46 mark. A bucket by Knox pushed it to 42-38 as the margin never exceeded four points either way. The Cardinals had two chances to tie, but missed both shots in the final moments as Kaufman added the final point at the line with 3.3 seconds remaining.
Weeks led three Panthers in double figures with 13 points to go along with 10 rebounds for her first career double-double. Kaufman and Knox each finished with 10 points, while Knox also grabbed 10 boards for her fifth double-double of the winter.
Wesleyan got a double-double from Kaylie Williams of 11 points along with a game-best 15 boards as Wesleyan held a 48-42 edge on the glass. Wesleyan was held to 26.5 percent (18-68) shooting and 15.8% (3-19) from long range. The Panthers hit just 35.1 percent (20-57) of their attempts from the floor and were 1-12 on three-point field goals.
On Sunday, Connecticut College outscored Middlebury 24-5 over the final 11:16 on its way to the win over the Panthers. The Camels received 12 points, four rebounds and three steals from Kaitlyn Crescencia in the win at Luce Field House.
Crews finished with a game-high 13 points and six rebounds to lead the visitors. Kaufman chipped in with 12 points and six rebounds for the Panthers. Knox reached double digits with 10 points and six rebounds for Middlebury. The trio were the only three to score in the game for Middlebury.
Willa McKinley joined Cresencia in double-figures with 11 points. Mairead Hynes finished with 10 points and eight rebounds for the Camels. Jenna Lovett grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds to go with her six points.
Conn. College raced out to an 11-2 lead in the first half. Cresencia buried a three ball from the left side with 17:50 to go before Lovett capped the rally with a free throw at the 17:24 mark for the Camels.
The Camels used another 8-0 run to build a 23-10 lead on the Panthers. Lovett ended the run when she put back an offensive board with 6:55 to go.
The Panthers ended the half with a 6-1 run of their own. Knox banked in a runner with 2:44 remaining and the Camels carried the 24-16 edge into the break
The Camels built a 26-18 lead when Hynes converted a hoop in the paint with 18:04 remaining in regulation. Middlebury countered with a 9-0 run to take a one-point lead on the hosts. Knox converted back-to-back field goals before Crews closed out the run with a pair of free throws to put the Panthers on top 27-26 with 15:23 to play.
Cresencia answered with a three ball from the left side of the arc with 14:41 remaining putting the Camels on top for good, 29-27.
The Panthers shot just 25% from the floor and 5-16 (.312) from three-point range, while the Camels shot .372 and .272 respectively. Conn. College enjoyed a 49-33 advantage on the boards.
• Women’s basketball record: 10-6
• Up next: 1/20 @ Smith – 7:00, 1/22 vs. Keene State – 6:00