The Middlebury men’s basketball team pulled away in the early stages of the second half en route to a 95-65 road victory against host Johnson State. The Panthers have won five-straight games and improve to 11-5 overall, while the Badgers fall to 3-10. Middlebury returns home to Pepin Gym on Thursday with a game against St. Joseph’s at 7:00 p.m., while Johnson State plays Husson on Friday.
Both teams started the game finding their respective shooting touches. The lead changed hands nine times before the Panthers possessed a narrow two-point lead at 16-14 with 13:45 left. Over the next 3:03 of action, the visitors rattled off a 9-1 run finished off on a lay-up by James Jensen.
The lead stayed between eight and 10 points over the next few minutes. Trailing by 10 nearing the midway point of the half, Johnson State went on a 6-0 spurt and sliced the deficit to four at the 7:15 mark on a lay-up by Cory Chase. Middlebury was able to slowly push that lead back to double figures just seconds before the half on a jumper from Dylan Sinnickson and led 46-36 at the half.
The Panthers shot 17-32 in the first half for just over 53 percent, while Johnston State knocked down 15-24 shots for a 62.5 percent clip.
Out of the half, Middlebury tallied 11 of the first 16 points of the stanza over the opening 4:26 capped off by a three-pointer from Joey Kizel and held a 16-point bulge at 57-41. The Badgers were able to cut it to 13 on the next possession via a three-pointer by Ron Adrian. However, that is as close as Johnson State managed to get as the visitors went on a 13-6 run over the next four minutes and cruised to the victory.
Sinnickson led a balanced Middlebury attack with 20 points on 8-15 shooting including four threes in just 22 minutes. Hunter Merryman added 17 on 6-7 from the floor and 3-3 from beyond the arc, while Kizel and Jack Roberts chipped in with 11 and 10, respectively. Sinnickson grabbed five rebounds and Kizel dished out six assists.
As a team, Middlebury knocked down 35-64 shots (54.7%) and tied a season-high with 11 threes. The Panthers limited Johnson State to just 35.3% (12-34) in the second half.
Bryan Hickey led all scorers with 23 points for Johnson State along with six rebounds, while Adrian added 12 points.