Rolling Panthers suffer heartbreaker to Bates

By Michael Segel

The Panthers’ dominant season was given yet another high note on Friday night as they handed Tufts only their fifth loss of the season and their first in NESCAC play. Tufts took off on a full head of steam in the opening minutes, attaining a 9–3 advantage. Middlebury was not to be stifled, quickly knotting up the score at 9–9. The teams remained neck and neck for a good while until the Panthers attacked for eight unanswered points to give themselves a 44–36 lead. Holding a six point lead at the half, the Panthers were quick to advance their lead by scoring the first five points out of halftime. Middlebury began to creep away until the lead had jumped to 78–60. The Jumbos went on a late 8–0 run, but the game belonged to Middlebury and they won by a score of 86–74.

Max Bosco ’21 had a tremendous offensive performance, leading all players with 26 points. Matt Folger ’20 put up an all-around impressive game with 18 points, 14 rebounds, and a couple of steals as well. Tommy Eastman ’21 added a double-double of his own with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Jack Farrell ’21 was a key part as well with 8 rebounds and 8 assists.

Friday’s relatively easy victory was quickly turned around by a heartbreaker on Middlebury’s senior day. Bates, thanks to a buzzer beater from Nick Gilpin, escaped with a 90–87 victory to end Middlebury’s regular season on a sour note. 

Bates was out to a 10–4 lead when the Panthers turned the game on its head with a 10–0 streak. The game stayed tight throughout the first half, but Bates led 40–35 at the break.

Middlebury was able to turn the game around once again and held a five point lead with less than five minutes to play. Bates fought back and with the game knotted up at 87–87, everything came down to the final ten seconds. A Bates-missed shot made it Panther ball, but a turnover gave the ball back to Bates and allowed Gilpin to drain the 23-footer to seal a hard fought victory. 

Eastman put up 28 points, a personal best, and Folger put up his second double-double of the weekend with 19 points and 11 rebounds.

It was a disappointing way to end a dominant regular season but on a happier note, Middlebury will play as the fifth seed in the NESCAC Quarterfinals against #4 Trinity at Trinity next Saturday at 3:00 pm.