Middlebury dropped its first game of the season as the 18th-ranked Panthers (3-1) fell 80-69 at Stevenson in the Hoopsville Classic. Stevenson (2-0) scored 29 points on 25 Panther turnovers in the game to come away with the victory. The Panthers, who forced 19 turnovers of their own, return to action on Sunday when they face St. Mary’s.
Middlebury trailed by eight midway through the first half, before a bucket by Jack Roberts and a three from Jake Brown made it a 20-17 game with 8:09 remaining. The Panthers later tied the game at 24-24 on a three from Joey Kizel. Stevenson came back, taking a 36-32 lead into the halftime break.
The Mustangs led by 10 in the second half before back-to-back threes from Hunter Merryman and Brown made it a 47-43 contest with 14:43 remaining. Stevenson maintained a 7-9 point lead for a majority of the half, with the Panthers cutting it to three with 2:17 remaining on a lay-up from Kizel. The Mustangs answered with an 8-0 run, emerging with the 80-69 victory.
Merryman paced the Panthers with 21 points and seven rebounds, including five hoops from three-point range. Brown netted 14 with five assists on 6-9 shooting, while Jake Nidenberg went 5-6 for 10 points and five boards. Kizel finished with 12 points, four assists and six steals.
Alfonzo Hawkins led Stevenson with 17 points, Christian Roberts scored 13, while Tyrus Costly netted 10.