Panthers Fall To #10 DeSales In NCAA Tournament

Alex Huffman had eight points and eight rebounds against DeSales. (Thomas Knox)
Alex Huffman had eight points and eight rebounds against DeSales. (Thomas Knox)

POST-GAME PRESS CONFERENCE

The Middlebury women's basketball team saw its successful season come to a close, as the Panthers fell to host DeSales 70-55 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday. Middlebury capped the year with a record of 20-8, posting the most wins in a season since the 2001-02 campaign and the program's fifth 20-win season.

The 10th-ranked Bulldogs (27-2) extended their winning streak to 22-straight games, heading to next weekend's round of 16.

Middlebury opened the scoring with Betsy Knox sinking a jumper and Alex Huffman followed with a free throw for a 3-0 lead. The Panthers later got a conventional three-point play from Colleen Caveney with 4:56 left in the frame for a 9-7 edge, but the hosts finished on a 14-2 run for a 21-10 advantage after 10 minutes of play.

After the hosts went up 23-10 on a jumper by Bridget Walsh early in the second stanza, Middlebury used the free-throw line to close the gap. Knox made three straight from the charity stripe, while Caveney hit two more to make it a 23-15 score with 7:51 on the clock. Maya Davis tacked on two more from the line, capping a 7-0 run with all the points coming from the charity stripe. DeSales extended the lead to 36-22 on a layup by Samantha Shinkus with 1:32 left before the break, but a three by Middlebury's Kira Waldman and a jumper in the waning seconds by Caveney narrowed the gap to single digits (36-27) through two quarters of play.

Shinkus put the margin back to double figures for the hosts on the initial possession of the third frame, but the Panthers put together a modest 7-0 run to close the margin to 38-34. Knox and Waldman sandwiched buckets around a three pointer from Huffman. Middlebury stayed in striking distance at the end of the stanza, trailing 50-43 with 10 minutes remaining.

DeSales extended the lead back to double figures (54-44) on a basket by Emma Stanfield less than three minutes into the fourth. The Bulldogs claimed their biggest advantage of the contest at 65-44 in the closing minutes of the 15-point victory.

Caveney led the Panthers with 16 points, while Knox contributed with 11 points. Davis recorded her eighth double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 boards, with Huffman and Waldman each finishing with eight points.

Morgan Birmelin notched a game-high 19 points for the Bulldogs, to go along with eight assists and five steals. Shinkus netted 18 points with eight rebounds and Averi Jordan added 11 points.

Middlebury shot 27.8 percent (15-54) from the floor, while the hosts hits 40.9 percent (27-66).