Middlebury Athletic Communications
The women’s basketball team (7–0) defeated Rensselaer (5–3) on Thursday, Nov. 30, 64–54 and Colby-Sawyer (4–1) the next night in overtime by a score of 66–59. On Tuesday, Dec. 5, Middlebury beat Plattsburgh St. 60–33 to move to 7–0, its best start since the 2001-2002 season when the Panthers won their first nine games.
Thursday’s night opener was a special one, as the Panthers’ first home game of the season. The Engineers were firing on all cylinders in the first quarter, taking a 9–2 lead within the first five minutes. The Panthers quickly adjusted their defense and were able to find an offensive spark from Betsy Knox ’20, who finished the quarter with eight points on three of three shooting.
At the start of the second quarter, it was clear that the Panthers were dictating the tempo, finding stops on the defensive end and continuously feeding the ball to Knox, who continued her scoring streak. Unselfish plays by guard Alex Huffman ’19 and Sarah Kaufman ’18 set Knox up to convert three consecutive layups. The Panthers ended the first half with a comfortable six point lead, 29–23, over the Engineers, while Knox finished the half with 17 points.
The halftime talk in their locker room lifted the spirits of the Engineers as they looked more tenacious on the defensive end at the beginning of the second half. The Panthers were a bit overwhelmed as they struggled to space the floor and scored only six points in the third. Rensselaer ended the quarter on a 6–0 run, gaining their first lead since the start of the first quarter. Jumpers from Sabrina Weeks ’18 and free-throws by Maya Davis ’20 kept the score tight. Going into the fourth quarter, Rensselaer led 36–35.
The fourth quarter was huge for the Panthers as they outscored the Engineers by 11, including three consecutive three-pointers — one by Huffman and two by Weeks. A 16–5 run ensued for Middlebury, and the Engineers had no choice but to force the Panthers to line. The Panthers converted nine of their ten free throw attempts in the fourth, securing a comfortable 64–54 win in their first home game. Knox finished with a game high 23 points and Huffman tallied all 13 of her points in the fourth quarter.
Back on the road the next day, the Panthers travelled east to New Hampshire to take on the Chargers of Colby-Sawyer. The Chargers finished the first quarter with a 7–2 run to take an 18–10 advantage. Within the first few minutes of the second, Colby-Sawyer established the game’s biggest lead by either side at 13, with a 25–12 lead. Then the comeback began, spurred purely by Middlebury’s offensive tenacity as the Panthers went on a 15-4 run to cut the lead to 29–27 at the halfway point.
The third quarter saw a flurry of exchanges from both sides with neither side gaining a lead larger than four points. Entering the fourth quarter with a narrow 44-42 point advantage, Davis hit a three and Kaufman nailed a jump shot to give the Panthers a seven point lead. After a few scoreless possessions with the score tied at 54, Davis gave the Panthers a two-point lead with a layup with less than a minute remaining. The Panthers forced up a three-pointer with less than 20 seconds on the clock. The Chargers rebounded the basketball and managed to push it up the court, where Tianna Sugars hit a game-tying jumper with just .9 seconds on the clock. With Middlebury unable to find a shot off the inbounds pass, the bout was scored in overtime.
The Panthers went on to dominate the overtime period, outscoring the Chargers 10–3. Knox opened the scoring with a 3-pointer and Huffman provided another from downtown later in the period. The threes, along with some free throws, iced the game for the Panthers, who took home a 66–59 win.
Davis had a career-high in both points and rebounds with 14 in each statistical category. Her aggressiveness on the boarsd with nine offensive rebounds helped Middlebury outscore Colby-Sawyer on second point chances 15-8. The eight additional rebounds over the opposition proved to be crucial in Friday’s win.
On Tuesday night, Middlebury squashed Plattsburgh State at home 60–33. In the second and third quarters, the Panthers outscored the Cardinals 40–14. Davis led the way with 16 points and eight rebounds, while Emily Wander ’21 and Kira Waldman ’20 both scored seven off the bench. The Panther defense held the Cardinals below 22 percent shooting from the field.
Middlebury returns to the court tonight when it hosts Sage at 7 p.m. Then, the Panthers will travel to Skidmore tomorrow night, Friday, Dec. 8, to play the Thoroughbreds in their final game before final exams.