#22 Middlebury Downs #9 Wesleyan in NESCAC Opener

Matt St. Amour scored a game-high 21 points, making 5-10 from long range.
Matt St. Amour scored a game-high 21 points, making 5-10 from long range.

Middlebury opened up NESCAC play with an 83-65 win over ninth-ranked Wesleyan (11-2, 0-1) in Pepin Gym. The 22nd-ranked Panthers (10-1, 1-0) converted 14-29 (.438) attempts from three-point range in the win. Middlebury returns to action on Saturday when it hosts Connecticut College at 3:00 p.m., while the Cardinals visit Hamilton.

Middlebury trailed 9-5 before Adisa Majors scored four during a quick 6-0 spurt that gave his team an 11-9 lead at the 13:56 mark of the first half. A pair of 5-0 runs later in the half left the Panthers with a 29-24 advantage with 6:16 remaining. Middlebury's big first-half run began at the 3:21 mark when the home team outscored the Cardinals 11-0 to close the half, taking a 40-27 lead into the intermission. Threes from Matt St. Amour and Joey Leighton sparked the run.

Wesleyan trimmed the lead to 11 at 44-33 on a pair of threes from Harry Rafferty, the second coming at the 15:33 mark. Middlebury responded with an 8-0 run, with threes from Jack Daly and St. Amour, taking a 52-33 advantage at the 13:21 mark. The lead grew to a game-high 22 (70-48) on a bucket from Nick Tarantino with 7:07 remaining.

The Cardinals made a run over the next 4:03, scoring 13 of 15 points, closing the gap to 11 at 72-61 with 3:04 remaining. Salim Green sparked the run with nine points for the Cardinals. The Panthers responded with a 6-0 spurt, pulling away for the 83-65 victory.

St. Amour led all scorers with 21 points on 5-10 shooting from beyond the arc to go along with four assists. He now owns 1,235 points, one point behind #8 Kevin Cummings on the school's all-time scoring list. Daly finished with 12 points and seven rebounds, Tarantino netted nine, while Jake Brown, Bryan Jones and Matt Folger each scored eight. Eric McCord grabbed eight rebounds, Brown finished with six assists, while Folger blocked three shots.

Green and Joseph Kuo each scored 18 points to pace the Cardinals, while Rafferty added 13. Kuo and Kevin O'Brien grabbed eight boards apiece, while O'Brien also dished out six assists.

Middlebury held a 47-37 rebounding advantage in the game, as its bench outscored Wesleyan, 27-9.