Middlebury shot 54.5 percent from the floor, knocked down 36-66 shots, and placed five in double figures, during a 99-83 victory over Johnson State (2-3) on Wednesday in Pepin Gymnasium. Playing their third game in four days, the Panthers (5-1) have a week off from action until they travel to Southern Vermont next Wednesday at 7:00 p.m., while the Badgers play Saturday at New England College.
The game was close in the early minutes with neither team taking a bigger lead than three points over the first 9:10 of play. Ahead by one (20-19) with 10:50 left in the opening half, Middlebury tallied six quick points on a pair of layups by Jake Brown sandwiched around a Zach Baines shot in the paint, for a 26-19 advantage. Johnson State responded with a 6-0 run of its own, slicing the Panther edge to just one at 26-25 on a fast break layup by Kawaun Chavis with 7:01 remaining.
Over the next 3:03 of action, Middlebury put together a 12-3 spurt, capped off a pair of free throws from Liam Naughton, for a 38-29 edge at the 3:58 mark. The Badgers cut the deficit to six on a three-point field goal from Marqwon Wynn, but the hosts outscored the visitors 12-3 over the final 3:28 for a 50-35 halftime lead.
Out of the break, the Panthers opened the second stanza scoring 16 of the first 23 points, gaining its largest lead of the game of 24 (66-42) on an old-fashioned three-point play from Adisa Majors with 15:59 left. The Badgers slowly chipped away at the Panther advantage, cutting it to 12 (91-79) on two free-throw makes from Benjamin Holl with 2:43 on the clock. Middlebury scored the game's next four points, all coming on free throws, and eased to the 16-point victory.
Matt St. Amour led five Panthers in double figures with 20 points, including 17 in the first half, along with five three-point makes. Majors was right behind with 17 points on 7-10 shooting to go with six rebounds, while Brown had 15 points, seven assists and three steals. Brown's seven assists give him 410 for his career, placing him fourth with Mike Faucher '99 in the Panther career record books.
Nick Tarantino tallied 16 points on a perfect 7-7 shooting performance from the floor to go with eight rebounds in 21 minutes, while Baines finished with 12 points and three blocks. Jack Daly posted a double-double with career-best totals in rebounds (13) and assists (11) to go with along four points.
Wynn led four Badgers in double figures with 23 points, while Chavis added 19. Holl tallied 16 points, including four threes, while Demetrius Slade chipped in with 11 and ended with team-high totals of three blocked shots and six steals.
The Panthers held a 46-28 rebounding advantage, dished out 25 assists and held a 31-11 edge in bench scoring.