Second-Half Run Leads Panthers to Tournament of Heroes Title

The Panthers pose for a photo after their tournament victory. (photo courtesy of CSI Sports Information)
The Panthers pose for a photo after their tournament victory. (photo courtesy of CSI Sports Information)

An 11-0 run over a span of 1:45 in the second half propelled Middlebury to a 70-59 victory on Friday over the College of Staten Island (6-6) in the championship game of the 15th Annual Tournament of Heroes. The Panthers (9-1) pick up their sixth-straight win and have a week off before opening NESCAC action at home next Friday at 7:00 p.m. against Wesleyan.

Middlebury's Matt St. Amour was selected as the tournament's Most Valuable Player, finishing the two contests with 45 points, seven rebounds and five steals. Jack Daly (28 points, 14 rebounds, 15 assists, five steals), who knocked down the game-winning shot in Thursday's victory, also earned a spot on the all-tournament team for his effort during the two games.

In the opening half, the Dolphins tallied the first six points of the contest over the initial 1:51 of play. Middlebury rattled off a 7-2 run over the next three minutes to pull within one at 8-7, capped off by a Nick Tarantino free throw with 15:51 remaining.

A free throw from Middlebury's Adisa Majors made the score 13-10 in favor of Staten Island at the 12:48 mark. Over the next six minutes of action, both teams had a difficult time finding the bottom of the net. The Dolphins scored the only five points during the stretch on a jumper from Jade Spencer, a free throw by Frank Schettino and a layup by Vaughndras Lennon for an 18-10 lead.

Middlebury slowly chipped away at the Staten Island edge over the final minutes of the half, cutting it to just a pair (26-24) on a three-point field goal from the corner by Daly with 51 seconds left as the Dolphins took the narrow lead into the break.

Out of the intermission, the teams traded lead changes over the seven minutes until back-to-back threes from St. Amour and Jake Brown put the Panthers on top 42-41 with 12:37 left. After a Schettino free throw tied the game, Middlebury tallied the next nine points, including five points from Matt Folger, for a 51-42 edge.

The hosts responded with a 11-3 spurt of their own, cutting the Panther advantage to one (54-53) on a fastbreak layup by Kevon Murphy at 6:20. Middlebury answered with the deciding spurt, highlighted by five points from Daly and a deep three from Joey Leighton to cap the run. Staten Island never got closer than nine as the Panthers cruised to the win.

After shooting just 33.3 percent (9-27) and nine percent (1-11) from three-point range in the first half, Middlebury knocked down 16-28 attempts in the second stanza (57.1 percent), including 7-13 from beyond the arc.

St. Amour paced three Panthers in double figures with a game-high 22 points, including 13 in the second half. Daly had a near triple-double with 12 points to go with team-high totals of nine rebounds and eight assists. Brown added 10 points, while Majors chipped in with eight points and five boards.

Murphy finished with a double-double consisting of 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Dolphins. Schettino was the other Staten Island player in double figures with 19 points to go along with a game-high nine assists, while Khaleeq Baum added nine points and nine rebounds.