Men’s Basketball Sweeps at Pepin

Jack+Daly+%E2%80%9918+and+the+Panthers+celebrate+in+their+82%C2%AD%C2%AD%C2%AD%C2%AD%C2%AD%E2%80%9376+win+over+Bates+on+Friday%2C+Jan.+12.+
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Men’s Basketball Sweeps at Pepin

Jack Daly ’18 and the Panthers celebrate in their 82­­­­­–76 win over Bates on Friday, Jan. 12.

Jack Daly ’18 and the Panthers celebrate in their 82­­­­­–76 win over Bates on Friday, Jan. 12.

AIDAN ACOSTA

Jack Daly ’18 and the Panthers celebrate in their 82­­­­­–76 win over Bates on Friday, Jan. 12.

AIDAN ACOSTA

AIDAN ACOSTA

Jack Daly ’18 and the Panthers celebrate in their 82­­­­­–76 win over Bates on Friday, Jan. 12.

By ANDREW RIGAS

The men’s basketball season can be split into three phases. The first ended with the team’s 91–76 win over previously undefeated No. 16 Skidmore on Friday, Dec. 8. Its second phase occurred over the break, when the Panthers experienced their first road bumps of the season and lost their first three (and only) games so far. Now, the team is in its third phase as they have experienced a resurgence since the beginning of J-term, including Nescac victories over Bates 82–76 on Friday, Jan. 12, and Tufts 78–63 on Saturday, Jan. 13. After this stretch of nine games, Middlebury stands at 12–3 overall and 3–1 in the Nescac, good for a three-way tie in the conference with Tufts and Williams and a half-game behind undefeated Hamilton.

In its final game before winter break, Middlebury travelled to Skidmore and managed to recover from a 38–34 halftime deficit with a monstrous 57-point second half that propelled them to a 91–76 defeat of the Thoroughbreds.

The Panthers’ starting-five led the way offensively, scoring 82 of the team’s 91 points. Jack Farrell ’21 tallied a career-high 22 points, while Nick Tarantino ’18 added 20 and a career-high 17 rebounds. Entering the game, the Panthers ranked second nationally, behind only undefeated Whitman.

After final exams and returning home for break, Middlebury returned to campus for a couple days of practice, before heading south to play in the Washington & Lee Holiday Tournament. In their first game of the tournament, the Panthers faced their second-consecutive undefeated opponent in No. 25 York (Pa.) on Friday, Dec. 29. Down 70–60 with only 4:16 remaining in regulation, the Panthers reeled off a 14–2 run to take a two-point lead with 36 seconds left. York responded with a late layup to tie the game and force overtime.

York jumped out to an eight-point lead in overtime, but Middlebury came right back with an 8–2 spurt to get within two points with 10 seconds left. York then turned the ball over, but Middlebury gave it right back and York sank one free throw to take a three-point lead. Farrell had a look to tie, but his three bounced off the back of the rim. The Panthers lost their first game of the season in overtime to York, 90–87.

Middlebury’s starting five once again did most of the scoring, tallying 73 of the team’s 87 points. Matt Folger ’20 and Jack Daly ’18 led the pack with 22 and 20, respectively.

The Panthers rebounded from its first loss of the season in the consolation game of the Washington & Lee tournament, handling Clarks Summit 81–58. Daly was the only Middlebury scorer in double digits with 16 points on an efficient five-of-eight shooting from the field. He added eight rebounds and six assists.

The following Tuesday, Jan. 2, No. 4 Middlebury returned home to host No. 12 Swarthmore. The Garnet built a 47–32 halftime lead that the Panthers could not recover from, as the visitors came away with a 91–75 victory. Folger scored 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds, and Daly and Eric McCord ’19 both added 12 points in the Middlebury loss.

Middlebury took a 7–2 record into Nescac play when they travelled to Connecticut for games at Connecticut College on Friday, Jan. 5, and at Wesleyan on Saturday, Jan. 6. The Panthers doubled the Camels’ first half total to take a commanding 46–23 lead into the locker room, and cruised to an 82–60 win in their first conference game. Folger led the way again with 16 points, while five other Panthers scored at least eight points.

In a back-and-forth affair, No. 12 Wesleyan outlasted Middlebury the following night 80–70. Daly scored a game-high 21 points, grabbed a season-high 15 rebounds, and assisted on eight baskets. However, the Cardinals got to the line far more often and shot 28 more free throws in their 10-point victory.

Two days later, on Monday, Jan. 8, Middlebury had another non-conference game at home against Morrisville State. The Panthers won 85–64 with a balanced scoring effort, as Hilal Dahleh ’19, McCord and Adisa Majors ’18 all scored 12 points. Daly made only one shot from the field, but handed out a career-high 14 assists.

On Friday, Jan. 12, Middlebury played its first home Nescac game against Bates. The Bobcats built the largest lead of the contest in the first half when they led 43–31. However, the Panthers scored the last four points of the first half and extended their run into the second half, tying the score at 48. Middlebury went ahead by as many as seven two times, but Bates cut the lead to one, 71–70, with 2:32 left. Folger and Daly closed the game out by scoring Middlebury’s last thirteen points and leading the Panthers to a 82–76 victory.

A game after recording his career-high in assists, Daly scored a career-high 26 points, along with nine rebounds and eight assists. In coming from behind in the second half, Middlebury shot a blistering 64 percent from the field to outscore Bates 47–33.

The next night, the Panthers came from behind once more in Pepin Gym to knock off Tufts, who was previously undefeated in the Nescac, 78–63. Tufts led by as many as ten points in the first half, and took a 38–36 lead into halftime. Middlebury led 52–51 at the 13-minute mark, before going on a 14–0 run to put the game out of the Jumbos’ reach. The Panthers secured a 78–63 win by outscoring Tufts 42–25 in the second half, holding the visitors to only 24 percent shooting in the final twenty minutes.

Middlebury dominated on the boards, out-rebounding Tufts 70–41 and grabbing 33 offensive rebounds. McCord retrieved a career-high 15 rebounds and added 13 points, while Daly scored 16 and Folger tallied 15.

On Jan. 15, Small College Basketball released its Top 100 Watchlist for the 2017–18 Bevo Francis Award, given to the best player from Division II, Division III, the NAIA, USCAA, and NCAA men’s basketball. Daly was named to the watchlist, after averaging 16.4 points, 8.8 assists, and 8.6 rebounds per game in Middlebury’s first 14 contests. Daly also recorded what is believed to be the first triple-double in the program’s history. He is also leading the nation in assists per-game with 8.8.

On Tuesday, Jan. 16, the Panthers fell behind in their third straight game, this time to Albertus Magnus in Pepin Gym. At halftime, the Falcons led 36–34. Middlebury took a 57–47 lead with 8:37 left in regulation, and led 64–56 with just under five minutes. But Albertus Magnus scored 10 out of the last 12 points in regulation, including two free throws with 20 seconds left to force overtime.

Tied at 71 with a little over one minute remaining in overtime, Daly scored on a fastbreak layup to put Middlebury ahead for good. The Panthers scored the last six points of the game to outlast Albertus Magnus 77–71.

Daly scored 22 points to lead the Panthers, while Folger, Dahleh, and Joey Leighton ’20 all added nine. With nine assists, Daly brought his career assist mark to 503, becoming the third player in program history to record 500 assists.

Middlebury returns to the court on Saturday, Jan. 20, when it hosts Williams in an anticipated matchup between Nescac rivals. Last season, Williams beat Middlebury in the regular season, Middlebury got revenge in the Nescac championship game, but the Ephs got the last laugh in the NCAA Quarterfinals. Their rankings once they come out and records. On Sunday, Jan. 21, the Panthers travel to Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, to face non-conference opponent Pine Manor.

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Men’s Basketball Sweeps at Pepin