The Middlebury men’s basketball team clinched a NESCAC Quarterfinal home game with a 53-45 road win at Trinity (14-10, 5-5). The Panthers (16-7, 6-3) will wrap up their regular season with a game at Amherst on Sunday afternoon.
Trinity led for the only time in the game 3:35 into the contest after a jumper by Jaquann Starks, but the Panthers scored the next six points to go ahead, 9-4, at the 13:48 mark. Middlebury used a 10-2 run to close the half, including five points from Joey Kizel to lead 28-17 at the break. Trinity shot 22.6 percent from the field, missed all five of its three-point attempts, and 42.9 percent from the foul line, but outrebounded Middlebury 24-18 over the first 20 minutes.
Scoring the first eight points of the second half, Middlebury took its largest lead, 36-17, with 16:28 left to play on two Kizel free throws. Trinity scored eight in a row to pull within 11 on a dunk by Alex Conaway with 12:19 on the clock, and got within single digits at 44-35 on a three-pointer from the right wing by Shay Ajayi at the 8:06 mark.
Kizel made a trey from the left wing off an inbounds play under his own basket for a 51-39 Middlebury lead with 3:41 remaining, but a jumper by Starks and layup by Ajayi made the score 51-43 with just over a minute on the clock.
Trinity’s Hart Gliedman stole the ensuing inbounds pass, as the Bantams were in a full-court press, and drilled a pair of free throws after being fouled on a drive. Middlebury’s James Jensen missed two free throws, and Starks got an open look from long range with 31 seconds left from the left wing that rimmed out, before Jensen sank his next two from the foul line to put the game out of reach.
Conaway paced Trinity in scoring with 10 points and added five rebounds, while Ajayi totaled a team-high nine boards, Ed Ogundeko contributed eight points, six boards and two blocked shots, while Staks added eight points and four assists.
Trinity finished 18-61 from the field (29.5%), 1-9 from three-point range, and 8-16 from the foul line (50 percent). Middlebury was slightly better with a 33.3 field-goal and three-point field goal percentage and a 59.1 free throw percentage. Kizel had game-highs of 15 points and 12 rebounds to go with four assists, while Hunter Merryman added 12 points and five boards.