The fourth-ranked Middlebury men’s basketball team had a 1-2 record last week, including two games against top-15 opponents. On Tuesday, a 17-2 run by visiting Swarthmore over a span of 6:29 in the first half propelled the 12th-ranked Garnet past the Panthers by a 91-75 score in Pepin Gym. Opening NESCAC play on Friday, Middlebury utilized a 13-0 run in the first half en route to an 82-60 road win at Connecticut College. On Saturday, the Panthers pulled to within three in the final minute, but 14th-ranked Wesleyan knocked down its free throws to seal the win.
On Tuesday, the Garnet quickly jumped out to a 9-4 lead on a layup by Zac O’Dell with 17:20 left in the opening half. The Panthers answered with a 6-0 run for a 10-9 edge with 15:36 on the clock. A bucket from Swarthmore’s Abass Sallah sparked a 7-2 run, giving the visitors a 16-12 edge on a three-point field goal from Conor Harkins at the 12:28 mark.
After a jumper from senior Adisa Majors (New York, N.Y.) on the ensuing possession cut the Middlebury deficit to just two, the Garnet rattled off the decisive run, capped by a layup from Cam Wiley for a 33-16 lead with 5:37 left. Harkins had six points on a pair of threes during the spurt for Swarthmore, as the Panthers missed nine consecutive shots. Middlebury pulled to within 13 (41-28) on a three from sophomore Matt Folger (Weston, Conn.) with 2:35 on the clock, but the Garnet scored six of the last 10 points before the half for a 47-32 lead at the break.
Out of the intermission, the hosts sliced the Swarthmore lead to 11 (47-36) on consecutive layups from senior Jack Daly (Eastchester, N.Y.) and junior Eric McCord (Westford, Mass.). The visitors responded with the next seven points, grabbing their largest lead of the game at 18 (54-36) on a three from Wiley at the 18:25 mark. Middlebury chipped away at the Garnet lead over the next few minutes, moving to within seven (67-60) of a pair of free throws by sophomore Joey Leighton (Garden City, N.Y.) with 10:33 left. The Panthers couldn’t come any closer over the remainder of the contest, as Swarthmore earned the double-digit road victory.
Folger paced Middlebury with 21 points in addition to eight rebounds and three blocked shots. McCord finished with 12 points and a team-high nine rebounds, while Daly dished out a game-best 11 assists to go along with 12 points. Leighton, junior Hilal Dahleh (Cambridge, Mass.) and senior Nick Tarantino (Dedham, Mass.) each chipped in with eight points.
Wiley led the Garnet with a game-high 22 points, including 16 in the second half, while O'Dell added a double-double of 19 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. Nate Shafer tacked on 12 points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots off the bench, while Ryan Ingram had 10 points for the visitors.
With the loss, Middlebury saw an 18-game regular-season home winning streak snapped.
On Friday while clinging to a 17-15 lead in the first half, a three-point field goal from rookie Max Bosco (Scarsdale, N.Y.) with 7:29 remaining capped a 13-0 run spanning 2:30 of action, giving the Panthers a 30-15 advantage. The visitors continued to increase their lead, doubling up the Camels at 42-21 with just over two minutes left in the half on a three from Leighton from the left wing. Middlebury took a 46-23 lead into the halftime break.
Out of the locker room, a layup from Folger with 16:40 showing on the clock gave the Panthers their largest lead of the contest at 27 (57-30). The Panthers maintained a 20-plus point lead over the remainder of the game, cruising to the conference road victory.
Folger led 12 Panthers in the scoring column with 16 points on 6-10 shooting to go along with 11 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season. He also dished out four assists and added three blocked shots, while Majors added 13 off the bench on 6-7 from the floor. Bosco was also in double figures with 11 points including a trio of threes, while Daly finished with nine points, a team-best 10 assists as well as six rebounds.
David Labossiere led all players with 18 points for the Camels to go along with seven rebounds, while Dan Draffan had 10 points off the host bench. Patrick Lazor had a near double-double of nine points and a team-high 10 boards.
The Panthers possessed an advantage in points in the paint (40-26) as well as bench points (41-23) during Friday’s win, limiting the Camels to 34.3 percent (23-67) from the floor and just 10 percent (2-20) from beyond the arc.
Against Wesleyan, the Cardinals jumped out to a 7-2 advantage, capped off by a layup by Kevin O’Brien with 17:12 left in the opening half. Middlebury went on a 6-0 run to take its first lead of the game at the 15:05 mark following a basket by Tarantino.
The contest went back and forth for the next few minutes until a pair of foul shots from Nathan Krill with 8:39 to play gave the hosts a 21-19 advantage. With time running out, Austin Hutcherson found Krill in the corner for a three as the clock expired to give Wesleyan a 40-32 halftime lead.
Out of the break, Middlebury went on a 9-2 run over the first 1:48, cutting the deficit to one on a three-pointer by rookie Jack Farrell (Verona, N.J.). The Cardinal lead hovered between one and five over the next few minutes, before a three at the 11:34 mark from Daly put the Panthers ahead by a 55-54 score. The lead was the first for the visitors since the opening minutes of the first half.
Wesleyan responded with an 11-0 run over the next 3:34, capped off by a steal and fast break layup from Hutcherson for a 65-55 lead with 8:00 remaining. Back-to-back three-pointers by Folger brought the visitors to within four (67-63). Wesleyan responded again with six of the next seven points, claiming a nine-point lead (73-64) on two free throws by O’Brien with 1:36 on the clock.
The Panthers put together a quick 6-0 spurt, cutting the margin to three (73-70) with 47 seconds remaining on a free throw by Daly, but the Cardinals hit 7-10 foul shots to seal the victory.
Daly led all players with a game-high 21 points to go along with a season-best 15 rebounds and eight assists. Dahleh scored nine points, while Folger, Leighton and Majors each tallied eight, respectively. Folger added eight boards and a pair of blocked shots.
Krill paced three Cardinals in double figures with 14 points, including 4-4 from beyond the arc, while Hutcherson and Bascom added 13 and 12. O'Brien and Hutcherson dished out five and four assists, while David Dixon recorded eight boards as well as six points.
• Men’s basketball record: 8-3
• Up Next: 1/8 vs. Morrisville State – 5:00 p.m., 1/12 vs. Bates – 7:00 p.m., 1/13 vs. Tufts – 3:00 p.m.