Hot Start Leads #5 Middlebury Past SUNY Canton

Joey Leighton had eight points off the Panther bench during Tuesday's win.
Joey Leighton had eight points off the Panther bench during Tuesday's win.

Fifth-ranked Middlebury jumped out to a 27-6 lead over the first 10:38 of Tuesday's opening half, cruising to a 79-57 road win at SUNY Canton (7-15). The win was the 11th-straight victory for Middlebury, who improves to 19-3 overall. The Panthers return to NESCAC action on Friday at #15 Hamilton with a 7:00 p.m tipoff.

The visitors jumped out to a 13-2 lead, capped at the 15:24 mark on a three-point field goal from Matt Folger. Middlebury continued its hot start, pushing its advantage to as many as 21 (27-6) via a jumper from Joey Leighton with 9:22 left. The Kangaroos slowly chipped away at the deficit over the remainder of the half, slicing it to 35-25 with 18 seconds left on a layup from Andrew Fitch. The Panthers held for the final shot of the half, as Adisa Majors pushed the Middlebury lead out to a dozen on a layup just before the intermission for a 37-25 advantage.

Out of the break, the Panther lead hovered between 10 and 15 points over the first eight minutes of action. Ahead 51-41 with 12:08 left on the clock, Middlebury rattled off an 11-3 run spanning 2:09 of play, concluded on a three from Leighton at 9:59. The visitors saw their lead grow to as many as 24 (79-55) on a jumper by Max Bosco, cruising to the non-conference victory.

Folger paced three Panthers in double figures with 16 points to go along with nine rebounds, while Jack Daly had a near triple-double of 11 points, nine rebounds and a game-high nine assists. Majors was the third player in double digits with 13 points on 6-7 shooting from the floor, while Nick Tarantino chipped in with five points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots.

Fitch led SUNY Canton with a double-double of 16 points and a game-high 14 rebounds, while Adrian Williams added 13 points. Joseph Werner pulled down nine rebounds to go along with five points for the Kangaroos.

As a team, the Panthers committed a season-low five turnovers, while forcing SUNY Canton to commit 17 miscues. Middlebury also held advantages in points off turnovers (16-2) and bench points (34-14).