The Middlebury men’s basketball team battled No. 14 Nichols in a back-and-forth NCAA Tournament opening round contest, as the Bison edged the Panthers 74-71 on Friday. The regional was hosted by Rowan in the Esby Gymnasium.
- The Bison grabbed a 19-13 advantage before the Panthers rattled off a 20-4 run spanning 7:07 for a 33-23 lead, capped by a three-point field goal from sophomore Will Ingram (Dallas, Texas) with 6:29 left.
- Nichols responded with a 7-0 run and the Panthers answered with a quick 8-0 spurt, as Middlebury maintained a double-digit lead and led 43-33 at the half.
- In the second half, the Bison rattled off the first 12 points for a 45-43 lead with 16:25 left.
- Trailing 67-64, Nichols produced the next six points, grabbing a 70-67 lead with 1:54 remaining. After the teams traded baskets, a pair of free throws from sophomore Griffin Kornaker (Bradenton, Fla.) brought the Panthers to within 72-71 with 1:12 left. Both teams missed shots on their ensuing possessions, before Nichols canned two free throws for a 74-71 advantage with 22 seconds left. The Panthers called a timeout, but turned the ball over in the waning seconds and the Bison inbounded it and dribbled out the final seconds for the win.
- Junior Matt Folger (Weston, Conn.) tallied his 12th double-double of the season, scoring 15 points and pulling down 15 rebounds, while senior Eric McCord (Westford, Mass.) produced his 10th double-double with 10 points and 10 boards to go along with a game-high three blocked shots. Rookie Alex Sobel (Setauket, N.Y.) chipped in with 12 points and six boards, Kornaker added 10 points.
• Men’s basketball final record: 18-8