Middlebury Pulls Away Late in NESCAC-Opening Win Over Wesleyan

Jake Brown had 14 points, seven assists and six rebounds during Friday's come-from-behind win. (photo courtesy of Will Costello)
Jake Brown had 14 points, seven assists and six rebounds during Friday's come-from-behind win. (photo courtesy of Will Costello)

The Middlebury men's basketball team closed Friday's NESCAC opener on a 16-5 run, including converting 11-12 free throws over the final 3:35, on its way to an 86-76 road victory over Wesleyan. The Panthers (7-6, 1-0) return to the court Saturday afternoon when they remain in Connecticut for a 3:00 p.m. game against Connecticut College.

 In the early minutes, Wesleyan (11-2, 0-1) started the game with 14 of the first 16 points and led 14-2, capped on a three-point field goal from Jack Mackey with 15:32 left. Middlebury sliced the Cardinal lead to four (18-14) via a 14-4 run over the next 4:42 of play, including four baskets by Eric McCord. The Cardinals put together a 10-2 run for a 28-16 lead with 7:13 left in the first half, but the Panthers fought back and tied the game at 30-30 on a three-pointer from Hilal Dahleh with 2:21 remaining in the opening stanza.

The Cardinals scored the final seven points of the half, including a three-pointer from BJ Davis in the final seconds, for a 37-30 edge at the break.

The second half of play saw a total of 10 ties and five lead changes between the teams. Middlebury turned the seven-point halftime deficit into a 39-39 contest with a 9-2 run over the opening 2:50 of the half, highlighted by fastbreak layups from Matt Daley and Jack Daly. The score swayed back and forth, as neither team managed more than a five-point lead over the next 13:35.

The hosts took the lead for the final time on a three-pointer by Joe Edmonds for a 71-70 edge with 3:35 left, but the Panthers started the game-deciding run on their ensuing possession via pair of Daly charity tosses. With the Cardinals forced to foul in the final minutes, Middlebury cashed in on its free-throw attempts for the victory.

St. Amour led five Panthers in double figures with 18 points on 6-11 shooting, including a trio of threes, to go along with seven rebounds and a career-best five steals. Dahleh added a season-high 16 points including a perfect 6-6 at the free throw line, while McCord and Jake Brown both ended with 14 points, respectively. Daly rounded out the Panthers in double figures with 12 points.

Daley paced Middlebury on the glass with eight rebounds, while Brown finished with a game-high seven assists and Daly added five. The Panthers mounted the comeback by knocking down over 64 percent (18-28) of their second-half shots and were 18-21 at the free-throw line in the final 20 minutes.

Davis led four players in double figures for the Cardinals with 18 points, Edmonds had 17, while Mackey and Rashid Epps finished with 15 and 10, respectively. Joseph Kuo had a near double-double of nine points and a game-high 12 rebounds, while Mackey dished out five helpers.