The Middlebury men's basketball team opened the 2019-20 season with a thrilling 85-81 victory over Bridgewater State (0-1) while hosting the Middlebury Tip-Off Classic in Pepin Gymnasium. The 13th-ranked Panthers (1-0) return to action on Saturday afternoon when they face Wentworth at 4:00 p.m. The day's first game will feature SUNY Canton and Bridgewater State at 2:00 p.m.
After a back-and-forth opening six minutes, Middlebury turned a 19-17 edge at the 13:33 mark into a 33-21 advantage on a layup from Jack Farrell with 8:41 left in the opening half. The Bears answered with a 13-2 run of their own spanning 3:47, capped on a jumper by Jose Monteiro Jr. to move to within 35-34. The Panthers maintained a small lead over the remainder of the stanza, as a pair of free throws with 10 seconds left from Max Bosco gave the hosts a 46-43 halftime lead.
Out of the break, Middlebury tallied the first nine points for a 55-43 edge on a layup from Alex Sobel with 16:37 showing on the clock. Bridgewater State slowly chipped away at the deficit, grabbing a 74-71 lead with 5:27 left on a basket from Ryan Carney. The Panthers responded with a 7-0 spurt covering 1:46 of action, taking a 78-74 advantage on a layup by Sobel. The Bears pulled to within two on a pair of occasions, but the Panthers tallied four-straight points on a Bosco layup and two free throws for an 84-78 lead with 26 seconds remaining. Monteiro Jr. knocked down a left-wing three-pointer, before Bosco sealed the win with a free throw for the final 85-81 score.
Sobel and Bosco led the Panthers with 21 points apiece, while Sobel added seven rebounds in just 17 minutes of action. Matt Folger finished with a double-double of 15 points and a career-high 17 rebounds, to go along with five blocked shots and three steals. Farrell chipped in with 10 points and a team-best four assists for the Panthers.
Rayshon Ward paced five Bears in double figures with 18 points and eight boards and five steals, while Carney posted a double-double of 17 points and a team-high 11 rebounds. Monteiro Jr. tallied 17 points off the bench for the Bears, while Admar Jaramillo had 16 points and six assists. Dimitri St. Louis added 10 points.