Led by Matt St. Amour's 31 points, #22 Middlebury placed five players in double figures as the Panthers netted a 97-89 NESCAC victory over Connecticut College Saturday in Pepin Gymnasium. Middlebury (11-1, 2-0) faces a tough test Friday at eighth-ranked Tufts, while the Camels (8-4, 0-2) are home against Trinity.
The Panthers got off to a great start, scoring the game's initial 11 points in just 2:31 of playing time. Middlebury showed its balance in that run as each player in the starting line-up scored. Jack Daly opened the scoring followed by a three-pointer by St. Amour, while Nick Tarantino, Adisa Majors and Jake Brown added field goals.
The Camels crept back into the game with a pair of three-pointers from Lee Messier, cutting the difference to 13-9. Conn. College tied the contest 18-18 and took its first lead a possession later on a bucket by Daniel Janel, just past the midway point of the half.
The game remained tight for the rest of the stanza with the Panthers taking the biggest lead (32-27) on a trey by Daly with 5:08 on the clock. The Camels later tied the game and used another three-pointer by Messier in the final 30 seconds to make it a 43-42 Middlebury lead at the break.
The teams were tied twice in the opening two minutes of the second half before St. Amour hit back-to-back treys for a 52-47 lead. After a free throw by Tarantino, Conn. College countered with a modest 6-0 run, tying the game (53-53) on a layup by Messier with 14:39 on the clock.
A bucket by David Labossiere tied the game again at 61-61, but the hosts began to pull away. Two free throws by Eric McCord and five straight points by Matt Folger put the Panthers in front for good. Middlebury took its biggest lead (75-63) in transition when Brown set up St. Amour for a layup with a behind-the-back pass with 6:47 remaining.
Middlebury matched that 12-point margin five more times down the stretch as the Camels didn't get closer than eight points the rest of the game. The hosts capped off a perfect opening weekend of NESCAC play with a 97-89 triumph.
St. Amour led all players with 31 points on 9-14 shooting, including a 5-9 performance from behind the three-point arc. He moved into a tie for fourth place for career three-pointers (177) with Craig Breen '00. He also moved into seventh place on the career scoring list with 1,266 points. Daly contributed with 17 points, while Brown added 14 and a game-high seven assists. Majors finished with 14 points and five boards, while Folger finished with a career-best 10 points.
The Camels boasted six players in double figures with Messier leading the way with 18 points, followed by Tyler Rowe's 17. Janel (14), Labossiere (12), Zuri Pavlin (11) and Isiah Robinson (10) also scored in double digits. Pavlin finished with six rebounds, becoming Conn. College's all-time leading rebounder (831).
Middlebury shot 56.5 percent for the game (31-55), while the Camels shot 40.8 percent (29-71) and held a 42-31 edge in rebounds.