Middlebury advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament with a 78-69 victory over Westfield State (20-8) in a game played at SUNY Brockport. The 19th-ranked Panthers (21-5) will take on the host school, a 92-86 winner over The Coast Guard Academy, at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday night.
Middlebury was down 10-2 early, but battled back. A 10-1 run gave the Panthers a 12-11 lead on a layup from Ryan Cahill at the 11:49 mark.
With the game tied at 27-27, Westfield State went on a 13-2 run, holding a 40-29 advantage with 21 seconds remaining in the half. A three at the buzzer from Middlebury's Max Bosco made it a 40-32 game at the break.
The Panthers were just 3-19 from three-point range in the first half, while the Owls shot 46.9 percent from the floor.
Middlebury came out flying in the second half, going on a 7-0 run to move ahead 47-44 on back-to-back threes from Bosco and Folger.
Trailing 53-51, the Panthers hit consecutive threes once again, this time from Jack Farrell and Bosco to take a 57-53 lead with 11:15 showing on the clock.
Westfield State led 58-57 when Middlebury scored 10 of the next 13 points to go ahead 67-61 at the 7:01 mark. A Bosco three and a trey from the left corner by Cahill led the charge.
The Panthers maintained a lead of five or more for the remainder of the game. The Owls had a couple of chances to make it a three-point game, but could not connect. Eastman sealed the game late with a three-point play on a fastbreak, as the Panthers emerged with the 78-69 victory.
Eastman paced the Panthers with 19 points and a career-high 15 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the season. Bosco added 18, while Farrell finished with 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Folger earned his ninth double-double of the season (26th career) by scoring 10 with 13 rebounds, while Cahill scored 10. Griffin Kornacker added eight points and five assists.
Westfield's Jauch Green, Jr. led all scorers with 23 points, while Moody Bey added 19 to go along with eight steals. Brendon Hamilton finished with seven points and a team-high 11 boards.
The Panthers held a sizable 55-38 advantage on the boards as both teams shot just under 40 percent. Westfield went 14-27 from the free-throw line, while Middlebury connected on 10-31 three-point attempts.
With his 10 points, Folger moved into ninth place all-time at Middlebury with (1,241) points, surpassing Kevin Cummings '76 (1,236 points).