Hot-Shooting First Half Lifts Colby Past Middlebury

Catherine Harrison scored 18 points and had six rebounds in Saturday's contest.
Catherine Harrison scored 18 points and had six rebounds in Saturday's contest.

Middlebury put together a comeback attempt in Saturday's fourth quarter, but Colby connected on 57.7 percent of its shots in the opening half and hung on for a 71-62 win Saturday in Pepin Gymnasium. The Panthers (17-5, 4-4) return to action on Friday when they travel to Hamilton for a 7:00 p.m. tipoff, while the Mules (9-12, 2-6) visit Maine-Farmington on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m.

Clinging to a 13-11 lead with just over two minutes left in the opening quarter, the Mules ended the frame on a 9-2 run, capped by a three-point field goal from Paige Russell, for a 22-13 advantage.

Colby carried the momentum into the second, scoring eight of the first 10 points for a 30-15 lead on a three by Katie McCrum with 6:34 remaining. The two teams traded baskets over the rest of the half, before a three from Ainsley Burns sent the Mules into the halftime break up 39-23.

The Mules made 57.7 percent (15-26) of their shots in the first half, including 70 percent (7-10) from beyond the arc, while Middlebury finished at 23.3 percent (7-30) and didn't hit a three.

Out of the locker rooms, Colby slowly increased its lead to 23 (50-27) on a three from Sarah Hancock at the 4:40 mark. Middlebury moved to within 57-35 on a three from Emily Wander, but a long-distance shot from Russell gave the visitors a 60-35 lead after three quarters.

In the final stanza, Middlebury started its comeback attempt with a 16-3 run over a span of 6:15, moving to within 12 (63-51) on a jumper from Catherine Harrison. After five points by the Mules, the Panthers tallied 11 of the next 12 points, pulling to within 69-62 on a three from Colleen Caveney. Colby knocked down a pair of free throws, making the final score 71-62.

Maya Davis led three Panthers in double figures with 22 points to go along with a game-best 11 rebounds for her sixth double-double of the season, while Harrison scored 18 and added six boards. Caveney tallied 10 points and tied her career high with five steals, while Wander recorded nine points off the bench.

McCrum paced the Mules with 17 points to go along with five rebounds, while Burns added 15 points. Hancock and Russell each tallied nine points, while Keegan Dunbar and Grace Coutu both had eight. Russell pulled down a team-high seven rebounds, while Jane MacKerron had six boards and a game-best four blocked shots.

Colby finished the game at 49.0 percent (25-51) from the floor in the contest, including 61.9 percent (13-21) from three-point range.