Middlebury battled No. 19 Amherst in a back-and-forth NESCAC contest on Saturday in Pepin Gymnasium, as the Mammoths tallied the final five points for a 97-93 victory over the Panthers. The Panthers (18-6, 7-3) currently sit in second place in the NESCAC standings, as Amherst (20-3, 7-2) and Hamilton will play a makeup game on Tuesday in Clinton, New York at 6:00 p.m. that will determine the final league standings.
The first half featured 10 ties and eight lead changes. Middlebury gained its largest lead of the opening stanza at 39-34 on a three-point field goal from Matt Folger with 2:00 left. The Mammoths finished the half on a 7-2 run, including a three by Devonn Allen as the buzzer sounded to send the game into the half tied at 41-41.
Out of the break, the hosts rattled off a 15-5 run spanning 4:11 of action, grabbing a 56-46 advantage on a three from Folger. The Mammoths gradually chipped away at the deficit, cutting it to 68-64 on a three from Garrett Day with 11:41 left. The Panthers answered with 15 of the game's next 22 points, taking their largest lead of the contest at 83-71 on a fastbreak layup from Jack Farrell.
Amherst produced a 12-2 spurt over the next 3:34, cutting it to 85-83 on a three from Fru Che with 4:15 remaining. The visitors whittled away at the Panther advantage, gaining a 92-91 edge on a three by Grant Robinson with 53 seconds left. A pair of free throws gave Middlebury a 93-92 edge on the ensuing possession, before a jumper by Robinson put the Mammoths ahead 94-93 with 25 ticks remaining. The Panthers worked the clock down, as Farrell's 15-foot jumper hit the front rim. Eric McCord tipped the ball, but it fell off and Amherst converted 3-4 free throws for the final 97-93 score.
Farrell led five Panthers in double figures with 22 points, while Folger added 16 points, seven rebounds, four assists and a pair of blocked shots. Folger moves into a fourth-place tie on the career blocked shots list with Mike Waggett's '82 mark of 158. Max Bosco and McCord each had 12 points, while Perry DeLorenzo added 10 points off the bench on 4-4 shooting from the floor. Alex Sobel finished with a career-high tying six blocked shots to go along with six points.
Amherst ended the contest with six players in double figures, led by Robinson's 20 points and a team-best four assists. Eric Sellew had 19 points, seven boards and a pair of blocks, while Che tallied 15 points and seven rebounds. C.J. Bachmann scored 14 off the Mammoth bench, while Allen had 11 points and a game-high three steals.
The Mammoths finished with a 40-29 rebounding advantage and a 26-11 edge in second-chance points. Middlebury connected on 53.8 percent (35-65) of its shots from the floor, while the Mammoths made 47.9 percent (34-71) of its attempts.