Big First Half Propels Men's Basketball Past Wesleyan

Jake Brown scored 12 points and dished out five assists.
Jake Brown scored 12 points and dished out five assists.

Jake Brown finished with a career-high with 14 assists and Dylan Sinnickson collected his ninth double-double of the season as Middlebury built a 27-point first-half lead en route to a decisive 97-60 win over Wesleyan in Pepin Gym. While both schools sit at 1-2 in NESCAC play, the Panthers improve to 11-2 overall, while the Cardinals fall to 11-5 for the season. Middlebury returns to conference action on Sunday, hosting Conn. College at 2:00 p.m., as Wesleyan hosts Baruch on the following day in a non-conference contest.

After a slow start for both teams Wesleyan took its second and final lead of the game at the 11:22 mark on a pair of BJ Davis free throws. Trailing 14-13, the Panthers went on an 11-0 run before Wesleyan called a time-out at 8:10. On the spurt, Matt Daley flushed a dunk on a Brown assist to regain the lead, while Hunter Merryman added six straight points before Sinnickson capped the run on a three-pointer for a 24-14 advantage that forced Wesleyan to call time-out.

Wesleyan's Joseph Kuo responded after the break, connecting on a traditional three-point play before the Panthers closed out the first half on a decisive 27-7 run. Nick Tarratino led the run with seven points as Brown piled up six assists, including a set-up on a 35-foot buzzer-beater by Matt St. Amour, giving the hosts a 51-24 halftime lead.

The Cardinals opened the second half with a bucket from Jack Mackey, but the Panthers added to their lead with a methodical 25-8 run over the next 6:20 of action, building a 76-34 advantage. St. Amour added eight points, while Sinnickson chipped in six during that span as Brown added two assists. The Cardinals did not threaten a comeback, but Davis did amaze the Middlebury crowd with a spectacular put-back dunk off a missed three-pointer late in the contest.

St. Amour led all players with 20 points, adding six assists and six rebounds, while Sinnickson scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for his double-double. Brown finished with his career-high 14 assists while committing no turnovers. Merryman chipped in a dozen points, as Connor Huff and Nick Tarantino each netted 11.

Davis led Wesleyan with 12 points on 5-11 shooting, while collecting five rebounds. Kuo finished with nine points and five boards, as Mackey added seven points, a team-high six rebounds and four assists.

For the game, Middlebury shot 12-28 from behind the arc, compared to 4-19 for Wesleyan.