The Middlebury men's basketball team opened its 2018-19 season with a 99-65 home victory over Vermont Tech on Sunday in Pepin Gymnasium. The 17th-ranked Panthers (1-0) return to action on Tuesday evening when they host Northern Vermont-Johnson at 5:00 p.m., while the Knights host Fisher on the same day at 2:00 p.m.
Knotted at 5-5 in a first half that featured runs from both teams, the Panthers reeled off a 14-4 burst over a span of 3:01 for a 19-9 lead with 14:46 left, capped by a three-point field goal from Matt Folger. The Knights slowly chipped away at the deficit, moving to within 19-14 on a three from Drake Perry with 12:58 remaining. The hosts rattled off the game's next 10 points, highlighted by a pair of triples from Joey Leighton, for a 29-14 advantage.
Vermont Tech pulled to within nine at 40-31 on a free throw by Tyrone Hilson with 4:13 left. The Panthers put together a 13-2 spurt over the next 2:17, grabbing their largest lead at 20 (53-33) on a layup from Alex Sobel with 1:56 left, before going into the break with a 57-37 lead.
Out of the locker rooms, the advantage hovered around the 20-point mark during the first few minutes. The Knights moved to within 65-49 with 15:04 remaining on a three from Jeremiah Shaw. The Panthers put together a 19-0 run over the ensuing five minutes of play for an 84-49 lead with 9:54 remaining on a tip-in from Sobel. Leighton produced eight points during the run. The edge grew to as many as 36 (92-56) on a layup from Perry DeLorenzo at the 3:55 mark, as the Panthers eased to the victory.
A total of 12 players scored in the win, including five in double figures. Max Bosco led the charge with a career-high 18 points on 6-11 shooting, while Leighton finished with a career-high 17 points, including five threes. Folger chipped in with 13 points and six rebounds, while Eric McCord posted a double-double of 12 points and a game-best 12 rebounds to go along with four blocked shots. Jack Farrell added 10 points, while Sobel tallied eight points, eight rebounds and four blocks. Griffin Kornaker handed out a game-best six assists in the victory.
Perry led Vermont Tech with 17 points and seven rebounds, while Trekel Douglas and Shaw each added 13 points. Hilson chipped in with 11 points for the Knights.
Middlebury held a decided rebounding advantage (57-35), fast-break points (20-4), bench points (54-16) and second-chance points (28-5). The Panthers finished the contest shooting a perfect 14-14 at the free-throw line, topping the program's single-game record of 12-12 set on March 1, 1974 against St. Lawrence.