A 15-foot pull-up jumper from Middlebury's Jack Daly with 1.6 seconds left lifted the Panthers to a thrilling 77-75 victory over #18 Illinois Wesleyan (8-3) in the opening game of the College of Staten Island 15th Annual Tournament of Heroes. The Panthers (8-1) return to action on Friday evening at 7:30 p.m. in the championship game when they face the host Dolphins, a 71-57 winner over Bridgewater (Va.). The contest was Middlebury's first game after 19 days off for the semester break.
The Panthers made their first six shots of the contest, capped off on a three-point field goal by Daly for a 13-8 lead with 15:46 remaining in the half. Illinois Wesleyan put together a 10-2 run over the next 2:08 of play, taking an 18-15 advantage at 13:38 on a three from Nick Coleman.
Ahead by two at 25-23 with a little less than nine minutes left, the Titans rattled off 12 of the next 14 points, finished off via a pair of free throws by Trevor Seibring with 5:18 remaining, for their largest lead of the game at 37-25. Middlebury slowly chipped away at the deficit, slicing it to one (43-42) on a free throw from Jake Brown just six seconds before the halftime break.
Out of the intermission, Middlebury recorded 17 of the stanza's first 20 points for its largest lead of the contest at 59-46, concluded by an Eric McCord fastbreak layup at 14:11. The Titans chipped away at the deficit, cutting it to just two at 75-73 with 51 seconds left on a fastbreak bucket from Brady Rose.
On the ensuing possession, Illinois Wesleyan forced a Panther turnover and raced the ball up the floor for a game-tying layup from Jaylen Beasley with 18 seconds showing on the clock. The Panthers didn't call a timeout and held for the game's final shot. With the half's final seconds ticking away, Daly drove from the right wing to the foul line, knocking down the game-winning bucket as the Titans failed to get off an attempt in the final 1.6 seconds.
Matt St. Amour led four Panthers in double figures with a game-high 23 points, moving him into 10th place on the Panther career scoring list with 1,192 points. He surpassed Nolan Thompson '13 and his 1,174 points.
Daly had a nice all-around game with 16 points, a team-best seven assists to go with five rebounds. Adisa Majors added 14 points on 7-11 shooting, while Brown was the fourth Panther in double figures with 10 to go along with four assists. Daly, St. Amour and Brown each swiped three steals for the Panthers, who earned 13 as a team.
Seibring finished with 17 points to lead the Titans to go along with a game-best eight rebounds. Rose was the other Illinois Wesleyan player in double figures with 16 points, while Alec Bausch and Coleman both added nine points apiece off the bench.