In a battle of top-25 foes, No. 24 Middlebury put together a furious second-half comeback attempt Sunday at 23rd-ranked Swarthmore (8-2), but the hosts tallied the final seven points for an 82-80 victory in Tarble Pavilion. Middlebury (8-3) returns to action Tuesday at home against SUNY Canton at 3:00 p.m. Sunday's contest was Middlebury's first contest after 12 days off for the semester break.
Trailing 6-2 in the early stages of a back-and-forth opening half, the Panthers rattled off an 8-0 run spanning 3:23 for a 10-6 lead on a layup from Matt Folger with 14:54 left. Knotted at 10-10, Middlebury tallied seven of the next 10 points for its largest lead of the stanza (17-13) on a three-point field goal by Max Bosco with 12:11 remaining. The Garnet responded with a 10-2 spurt over 2:03 of play, grabbing a 23-19 edge on a layup from Zac O'Dell. Ahead 27-25, Swarthmore reeled off an 8-0 run covering 2:16, securing a 35-25 advantage on a three by Ryan Ingram with 4:58 left. The visitors chipped away at the deficit, cutting it to four (37-33) via a layup by Folger at the 1:27 mark before a basket by Swarthmore's Cam Wiley sent the hosts into the locker room up by six.
The Garnet recorded the first four points of the second half, pushing their lead to 43-33 on a pair of free throws from O'Dell with 18:43 left. The Panthers produced a 16-6 run covering 5:54, tying the game at 49-49 on an old-fashioned three-point play from Jack Farrell. The next six minutes saw the lead change four times with three ties, as a layup from Wiley knotted the contest at 60-60 with 7:01 remaining. Middlebury mustered an 11-2 run spanning 2:21 for a 71-62 lead on a three from Folger.
After a three by Wiley on the ensuing possession cut the deficit to six, the Panther lead hovered between three and five over the next few minutes. Holding an 80-75 advantage with 1:53 remaining, the Garnet scored the final seven points, including a put-back jumper from Wiley with 12 seconds left for an 81-80 lead. The Panthers missed a three on the ensuing possession, as a free throw from O'Dell completed the scoring. Middlebury had one final attempt, but a half-court heave from Folger hit off the back of the rim and caromed away for the final 82-80 score.
Farrell led three Panthers in double figures with 24 points, including 21 in the second half. Folger posted 14 points and 10 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season, while Bosco had 12 points off the bench. Eric McCord pulled down 10 boards for Middlebury, while Alex Sobel had eight points, nine rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots in 19 minutes.
O'Dell paced the hosts with a game-high 25 points to go along with six rebounds, while Wiley added 17 points, nine rebounds and a game-best six assists. Conor Harkins had 13 points and a team-high 10 rebounds, while Ingram added 10 points.