Middlebury allowed only 16 points over the final three quarters, as the Panthers opened the 2020 portion of their schedule with a 46-27 home victory over St. John Fisher on Thursday. Middlebury (9-1) returns to the court on Saturday with a 1:00 p.m. contest at the University of New England, while the Cardinals (7-3) host Ithaca on January 6 at 6:00 p.m.
Middlebury got off to a strong start, scoring on its first three possessions before leading 8-0 with only 2:29 expired. Maya Davis and Betsy Knox each hit from in the paint for the hosts, while Kamryn You Mak sank two more shots from the floor for an eight-point cushion. The Cardinals closed gap to 14-11 by the end of the frame, hitting three times from behind the three-point arc. Miranda Lynch made the final shot from long range, making it a 14-11 contest after 10 minutes of play.
The Panther defense limited the Cardinals to only five points in the second stanza, while extending their lead. The hosts led by as many as eight points on two occasions, before taking a double-digit lead for the first time a minute before the half. Knox converted a conventional three-point play for a 27-16 lead at the break.
In the third period, Middlebury continued to build on its lead, outscoring St. John Fisher 13-4. Knox and Davis did most of the damage for the hosts, combining for 11 of the team's 13 points. The Panther defense was nearly perfect in the frame, limiting the Cardinals to 1-16 (6.3%) shooting from the floor.
The hosts claimed their biggest lead of the game in the final quarter, following a small 5-0 run. Knox connected with a field goal, while a three-point play by Davis produced a 46-25 advantage with 2:45 remaining. Ella Eckert and Julia Mersock added free throws in the final minute for the visitors making it a 46-27 final.
Knox led all scorers with 22 points to go along with a dozen rebounds for her fifth double-double of the season. Davis finished with 10 points, while Kira Waldman netted seven with 10 boards and three assists. Eckert led St. John Fisher with eight points, Lynch scored seven off the bench, while Harper Mead finished with six points and three assists.
The Panther defense held the Cardinals to 16.1 percent shooting from the floor, while forcing 16 turnovers and blocking 10 shots. Middlebury shot 31.5 percent from the floor and committed 22 turnovers of its own. The Panthers dominated the boards with a 54-33 advantage in the contest.