Middlebury advanced to the NESCAC Semifinals for the first time since 2013, as the Panthers netted a 75-71 road triumph at Trinity on Saturday. The fifth-seeded Panthers (19-6) will face host and top seed Bowdoin next Saturday in Maine. Middlebury's 19 victories are the most since the record-breaking 22-win campaign of 2001-02.
The score remained close through the early stages of the first quarter with no team leading by more than three points. Middlebury used a modest 10-3 run to forge a 17-10 lead, following a jumper by Catherine Harrison. The Bantams scored six of the final eight points, as Courtney Erickson sank a free throw with four ticks on the clock.
In the second stanza, the hosts tied the contest (19-19) on their first possession on a 3-pointer by Katie Kirsch and later took its biggest lead at 28-25 on a bucket by Kaylen Campbell. The Panthers utilized another 10-3 run over the final 4:20, taking a 37-31 advantage into the half. Colleen Caveney and Betsy Knox each contributed four points during that stretch.
After Middlebury's Maya Davis opened the scoring in the third quarter, the hosts netted six-straight points to close the gap to 39-37 with 8:00 showing on the clock. The Bantams took their first lead of the frame (41-40) just over a minute later on a layup by Peace Kabari. The score stayed close until the final minutes until when Kira Waldman sank a layup, giving the Panthers a 53-49 lead heading into the final 10 minutes.
In the fourth quarter, a conventional three-point play by Kabari closed the gap to 53-52, but Middlebury got back-to-back buckets from Davis and another from Caveney to make it a 59-52 cushion. The Bantams closed to a point (66-65) with just over three minutes left to play, but Knox pushed the margin back to five with four-straight points. Middlebury iced the win from the foul line, as Ivy Houde sank a pair and Knox made three in the closing seconds for the 75-71 final.
Davis led four Panthers in double figures, scoring 22 points to go along with eight rebounds. Caveney netted 17 points, Waldman added 16 points and a game-high seven assists, while Knox chipped in with 14. Alex Huffman collected a game-high 12 rebounds, all on the defensive end of the floor.
Kabari paced Trinity with 28 points, 11 boards and five assists. Erickson also reached double figures with 17 points.
Middlebury shot 43.1 percent (25-58) from the floor and limited the Bantams to 34.8 percent (23-66) shooting.
Huffman and Caveney each appeared in their 100th career game for the Panthers.