Middlebury had a late chance to tie MIT in the final seconds, but the Engineers held on for a 79-76 NCAA Tournament Sectional semifinal win on Friday in Ramapo's Bradley Center. The 18th-ranked Panthers finish their season at 21-7, while MIT (25-5) advanced to Saturday's sectional final and plays the winner of Friday's second game between Franklin & Marshall and Ramapo.
Middlebury jumped out to a 12-5 lead over the initial 5:15 of the contest, capped by a three-point field goal from Jack Farrell from the left wing. The Engineers responded with a 13-0 run over the next four minutes, grabbing an 18-12 advantage on a three from A.J. Jurko at the 11:28 mark. The Panthers with a 13-2 spurt spanning the ensuing four minutes, taking a 25-20 edge on a layup from Farrell with 7:15 showing on the clock.
MIT clawed its way back to even at 29-29 on a pair of free throws from Hamilton Forsythe at with 4:31 left. After the two teams traded 5-0 runs, Matt Folger gave the Panthers a 37-34 lead headed into halftime with a three from the right corner. Folger tallied six blocked shots in the first half for the Panthers.
In the back-and-forth second stanza, Middlebury gained four-point leads seven times over the first seven minutes, including a 54-50 edge on a layup from Adisa Majors with 12:27 remaining. A bucket from Tim Roberts and a jumper by Ian Hinkley pulled the Engineers even at 54-54 less than a minute later. The teams traded small leads over the next few minutes, as Middlebury knotted the contest for the seventh time at 70-70 on a three from Farrell at the 5:29 mark. MIT scored the next five points of the contest, but a pair of layups by Jack Daly moved the Panthers to within 75-74 with 54 seconds left.
On the ensuing possession, a steal by Farrell gave the Panthers the ball. A running floater in the lane by Daly fell off the rim with 11 ticks remaining, as Middlebury was forced to foul. Jurko knocked down both of the charity tosses for a 77-74 lead for the Engineers. Wasting little time, Daly raced the ball up the floor and was fouled at center court, making both of the free throws for a 77-76 score. The Panthers applied pressure after the made free throws, fouling Cameron Korb who made both ends for a three-point lead (79-76). Daly was fouled on the next possession with 8.1 seconds remaining, but missed the front end of the one-and-one. The offensive rebound came to Folger, who dribbled behind the line and shot a three that hit the back of the rim and fell off for the final 79-76 score.
Daly led Middlebury with a double-double of 21 points and 13 rebounds to go along with five assists. Farrell finished with 15 points, including 12 in the first half, to go along with five rebounds and three assists. Majors had nine points on a perfect 4-4 shooting from the floor in 20 minutes, while Folger scored nine points to go along seven rebounds and a career-high six blocked shots. Nick Tarantino ended his night with eight points and seven boards, while Eric McCord chipped in with eight points. The Panthers pulled down 39 rebounds in the contest, setting a single-season record with 1,329 boards, surpassing the total of 1,294 set last season.
Forsythe led all players with 23 points, including four threes, while Roberts had a double-double of 13 points and game-best 17 rebounds. Jurko tacked on 18 points and five rebounds, while Hinkley was the fourth Engineer in double figures with 17 points.
The Panthers shot 44.1 percent (30-68) from the floor and 37.5 percent (6-16) from three-point range. The Engineers made 40.9 percent of their shots (27-66) in the game, knocking down 40.7 percent (11-27) of their attempts from long range. The Engineers converted 82.4 percent of their free throws (14-17), including 4-4 in the final 11 seconds.