MIDDLEBURY, Vermont – The Middlebury women's basketball team utilized a first big quarter and held off a late comeback attempt by Springfield for a 63-57 victory Saturday in Pepin Gymnasium. The game was the final contest of the season-opening Middlebury Tip-Off Classic. Sixth-ranked Tufts defeated Lasell by a 90-30 count in the day's first game. The Panthers (2-0) return to action on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. when they travel to Castleton, while the Pride (1-3) play at Williams on the same day.
The Panthers tallied the game's first six points and raced out to a 13-3 lead on a jumper by Ivy Houde with 2:02 left in the initial quarter. After a basket by Emily Jacques pulled the visitors to within 11 just 51 seconds later, a basket from Lily Kuntz gave the hosts an 18-5 edge after one stanza.
In the second quarter, the Panthers slowly pulled out to a 26-8 lead on a layup from Catherine Harrison with 6:26 left before halftime. That advantage grew to as many as 19 (31-12) on a three-point field goal from Emily Wander at the 2:34 mark. Five-straight points by the Pride cut the deficit to 31-17 on a jumper by Alex Goslin, but Wander put the Panthers up 33-17 with a layup just three seconds before the halftime break.
Out of the intermission, Springfield chipped away at the Panther advantage, slicing it to 46-36 on a three from Chelsea McAllister with 2:13 left. Four-straight Middlebury free throws pushed the score out to 50-36, but a three from Goslin pulled the Pride to within 11 after three quarters.
The fourth quarter saw Springfield rattle off a 12-4 run over a span of 6:29, moving to within 54-51 on a three from Goslin. The Panthers increased their lead to 57-51 via an old-fashioned three-point play from Kuntz. A pair of charity tosses from Goslin, followed by a free throw from Middlebury's Betsy Knox made the score 58-53 with 26 seconds left. On the Pride's ensuing possession, Goslin made a quick layup with 21 seconds remaining and Springfield immediately fouled. The Panthers knocked down 5-6 free throws over the final seconds, including a perfect 4-4 from Knox, to hold on for the victory.
Maya Davis led a balanced Middlebury output with 10 points on a 4-4 shooting from the floor, while Kuntz added nine points and a team-high nine rebounds off the bench. Harrison, Colleen Caveney and Wander each had eight points, while Harrison and Kira Waldman each pulled down seven rebounds.
McAllister paced the Pride with 18 points, including 15 in the final two quarters, while Goslin finished with 16 and 14 in the last 20 minutes. Jacques added 11 points, while Taylor Hall pulled down a team-best seven boards.
The Panthers held a 42-26 rebounding advantage, possessed a decided edge in points in the paint (36-20) and bench points (28-5). Middlebury converted 20-23 free-throw attempts, including 16-19 after the halftime break.