Middlebury outscored visiting Keene State by a 20-1 count spanning 13:49 of the first and second quarters on its way to a 55-40 win Saturday over the Owls in Pepin Gymnasium. With the victory, the Panthers match the best start in program history, tying the 2001-02 team with a perfect 9-0 mark. Middlebury returns to action on Monday when they play at Mount Saint Mary (N.Y.) beginning at 1:00 p.m., while the Owls (2-9) travel to Southern Maine next Saturday at 1:00 p.m. Today's game was Middlebury's first contest after 21 days off for the semester break.
Keene State quickly jumped out to a 5-0 lead just 1:08 into the opening quarter on a three-point field goal by Emily McPadden. Middlebury tallied 10 of the next 11 points, taking a 10-6 edge after one quarter on a three from Emily Wander.
The hosts recorded the initial 10 points of the second quarter, including six by Betsy Knox, for a 20-6 advantage with 5:23 left before halftime. On the ensuing possession, a three by Lilly Shilmon ended the Owl scoreless streak of 13:49, pulling the visitors to within 20-9. The Panther lead hovered around the double-digit mark over the final minutes of the quarter, before a layup by Shilmon pulled the Owls to within 24-15 at the halftime break.
Out of the locker room, Keene State chipped away at the deficit, moving to within 27-19 on a pair of free throws from Hien Thach at the 4:51 mark. The Panthers put together a 14-3 run over the next 4:46, highlighted by six points from Maya Davis, for a 41-22 advantage. A running banked-in three by Keene State's Jenny Freedman as the quarter buzzer sounded pulled the visitors to within 41-25 after three stanzas.
The Owls tallied the first basket of the final quarter, before Middlebury rattled off an 11-0 run covering 3:04 of action, giving the hosts their largest lead at 52-27 on two charity tosses by Knox with 6:38 left. Keene State tallied 13 of the final 16 points for the 55-40 final score.
Davis led the Panthers with 18 points to go along with eight rebounds, while Knox recorded 16 points and a career-high 11 rebounds. Wander scored six points, while Lily Kuntz pulled down eight boards.
Tamra Gonyea led paced the Owls with 16 points, while Shilmon chipped in with seven points and a team-best nine rebounds.
Middlebury, the nation's team leader in rebounding margin, held a 46-30 edge on the boards in the victory.