Max Bosco knocked down a three with 2.4 seconds left, propelling Middlebury to an 80-79 victory over No. 8 Hamilton (19-3, 5-3) Friday in Pepin Gymnasium. The Panthers (18-5, 7-2) controls their own destiny, as a win tomorrow against 19th-ranked Amherst at 3:00 p.m. would clinch the top seed for the upcoming NESCAC Tournament. The Continentals play on the road Saturday at 10th-ranked Williams at 3:00 p.m.
The visitors jumped out to a quick 6-3 lead on a layup from Tim Doyle at the 17:53 mark. The Panthers responded with a 12-0 run spanning 3:34 of action, grabbing a 15-6 edge on a layup by Griffin Kornaker with 14:19 left. The Continentals battled back to within 21-18 nearly the midway point of the opening half on a layup by Nick Osarenren. Middlebury answered with a 10-2 spurt, securing a 31-20 lead on a basket by Matt Folger with 7:07 remaining. Hamilton sliced the advantage to 37-31 on a three from Mark Lutz at the 1:30 mark, but the hosts tallied the next five points and took a 42-34 lead into halftime.
Out of the locker rooms, the Panthers scored the first nine points of the second stanza, grabbing their largest lead of the contest at 51-34 with 16:57 remaining on a three by Jack Farrell. The Continentals produced a 13-4 run covering 3:06 of play, moving to within 55-47 on a layup from Kena Gilmour. Middlebury maintained its double-digit advantage over the next six minutes, holding a 68-56 lead on a three by Kornaker with 9:27 left. Hamilton rattled off 23 of the game's ensuing 29 points, taking a 79-74 lead on a three by Gilmour with 1:20 showing on the clock.
Eric McCord split two free throws on the next Middlebury possession, while a steal and layup from Farrell brought the Panthers to within 79-77 with 39 seconds left. After a Continental timeout, the visitors had a jumper rim in and out and Folger secured the rebound. Farrell pushed the ball up the floor, finding Bosco on the right wing for the game-winning three with 2.4 ticks left and he was fouled. Bosco purposely missed the ensuing free throw, as a last-second 55-foot heave bounced off the backboard, giving the Panthers the 80-79 victory.
Farrell finished with 18 points and four assists to lead Middlebury, while Folger added 16 points and 10 rebounds for his 11th double-double of the season, to go along with four blocked shots. Hilal Dahleh chipped in with 14 points, while Bosco added 13. McCord pulled down nine boards for the hosts.
Hamilton was paced by Gilmour with 20 points and nine rebounds, while Peter Hoffmann had 16 points, eight boards and a game-high five assists. Michael Grassey added 11 points and seven rebounds.