The Middlebury women’s basketball team posted a perfect 2-0 record during home NESCAC contests in Pepin Gym. On Friday evening, the Panthers shot 67 percent from the floor in the second half, on its way to a 75-59 win over Connecticut College in the conference opener for both teams. On Saturday, Middlebury pulled away in the second half en route to a 77-60 victory over Wesleyan.
In Friday’s win, Middlebury took an 11-7 lead in the first quarter on a layup from sophomore Maya Davis (Milton, Mass.) at the 5:36 mark. The game was later tied for the fifth time at 13-13 on a hoop by Panther sophomore Betsy Knox (Bethesda, Md.), before the hosts held a one-point lead (19-18) after one quarter.
The Camels used two different 6-0 spurts in the second quarter, holding an eight-point advantage at the half, 36-28. The visitors made 5-8 three-pointers in the 10-minute span, including a pair each from Kylie Caouette and Ashley Howe.
The lead grew to as many as 10 in the third, before the Panthers went on a game-changing 15-0 run with 3:24 remaining. Knox earned six points during that period, including back-to-back buckets, before her free throws gave the Panthers the lead (45-44) with 1:31 left in the stanza. Middlebury led 47-44 at the end of three quarters, with the run continuing into the fourth, as junior Alex Huffman (Lynn, Mass.) knocked down a three for a 50-44 advantage with 9:22 remaining.
Trailing 52-44, the Camels did not go away, responding with an 8-0 run to tie the game at 52-52 with 7:29 remaining. Mairead Hynes scored all eight points during the spurt, including a pair of old-fashioned three-point plays.
Middlebury answered with a jumper from Knox, a hoop from Davis and a three from senior Sarah Kaufman (Boulder, Colo.), holding a 59-52 advantage at the 5:51 mark. Connecticut College later came within four (59-55), but the Panthers closed the game on a 12-2 run to seal the 75-59 victory.
Davis tied a career high with 18 points to go along with nine boards on 6-9 shooting from the floor, while Knox added 16 points and a career-best six assists. Huffman finished with a career-high 13 rebounds, while scoring 12 points and picking up five steals.
Hynes paced the Camels with 13 points, while Sami Ashton added 11.
Middlebury held a 42-25 rebounding advantage in the game, while shooting 8-12 from the floor in both the third and fourth quarters.
On Saturday, 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 sophomore Lily Kuntz (Villanova, Pa.) 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 Kaufman for a 34-30 edge. A basket by Wesleyan’s Heidi Scarth and a free throw from Panther senior Sabrina Weeks (Los Altos, Calif.) gave the hosts a 35-32 halftime lead.
Out of the break, a jumper from junior Colleen Caveney (Andover, Mass.) 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 rookie Kirsten Long (Pennington, N.J.) 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 Davis had 12 points and Knox added 10. 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.
• Women’s basketball record: 11-2
• Up Next: 1/9 vs. Castleton – 7:00 p.m., 1/12 at Bates – 7:00 p.m., 1/13 at Tufts – 3:00 p.m.