Men’s Hoop: Panthers Win NESCAC Title and NCAA Bid, Rolling Past Williams 84-62

Courtesy Middlebury Sports Information

MEDFORD, MA. — Middlebury claimed its second-consecutive NESCAC Men’s Basketball Championship and fourth overall with an 84-62 win over sixth-seeded Williams in the title game played at Tufts. The Panthers outscored the Ephs 48-22 in the second half, including a 16-0 run to start the stanza. Second-seeded Middlebury earns the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and will make their eighth trip in the last 10 years when the pairings are announced Monday afternoon at 12:30 p.m. The ninth-ranked Panthers, who enter the NCAA Tournament riding an 11-game winning streak, improve to 24-3 with the win, while Williams falls to 19-8. Middlebury also claimed NESCAC Tournament titles in 2009, 2011 and 2016.

The opening half featured big runs from both teams. Williams pulled out to a 15-5 lead over the first 4:18 of the opening half, including five points from Daniel Aronowitz. On Middlebury’s next two possessions, three-point field goals from Jake Brown started a 15-5 run that tied the score at 20-20 with 12:09 left. The spurt was capped by a three from the right wing by Jack Daly.

Williams responded with a 14-4 run over the next 3:24 of action for a 34-24 lead, capped off on a layup from Marcos Soto. The Panthers answered with an 11-1 run over the next five minutes, knotting the game at 35-35. Five different players for Middlebury scored the spurt. The Ephs scored five of the final six points of the half, taking a 40-36 edge into the break.

Out of the locker room, the Panthers began the half on a 16-0 run over the first 5:59 of action, including the final nine points from Matt St. Amour. The Middlebury run was stopped by a free throw from Aronowitz with 14:01 left, as the Panthers held a 52-41 edge. The Panthers also held Williams without a field goal for more than seven minutes to start the second half, as the Ephs went 0-7 from the floor with three turnovers.

The Middlebury lead grew to as many as 17 (60-43) a little under two minutes later on a three by Matt Folger. Williams cut the lead to 12 (62-50) on a free throw from Kyle Scadlock with 9:32 remaining, but the Panthers tallied the next six points with a pair of baskets by Adisa Majors and a layup by Eric McCord for an 18-point advantage. Middlebury maintained a near 20-point bulge over the remainder of the contest, claiming its second-straight league title.

St. Amour tied Brown for team-high honors with 20 points apiece, as both players were 7-12 from the floor. Brown had 15 points in the first half, while St. Amour scored 17 of his points after the break. St. Amour was 5-9 from beyond the arc, becoming the first player in program history to convert 100 three-pointers in a single season with 103. He also surpassed the 500 field-goal benchmark in the victory with 503 in his career.

Brown knocked down a perfect 3-3 from three-point range, to go along with four rebounds and three assists. McCord and Majors both finished with 10 points each, Nick Tarantino chipped in with nine points and seven rebounds, while Folger had seven points and eight rebounds off the bench. Daly had a nice all-around game of eight points, seven rebounds, a game-high nine assists as well as three steals, while St. Amour dished out five assists in the victory. With his nine assists, Daly moves into second place on the Middlebury single-season list with 164, trailing Pat Casey’s ’93 total of 179 in 1992.

Scadlock led the Ephs with a double-double of game-bests 24 points, 15 in the first half, and 11 rebounds, while Aronowitz was the other Williams player in double figures with 14. James Heskett added eight points off the bench for the Ephs.

The Panthers shot 47.8 percent from the floor (32-67), including 55.6 percent in the second half (20-36), while Williams made 35.1 percent of its attempts for the game (20-57), including just 20 percent (5-25) after halftime. The Panthers converted 38.5 percent of their shots from beyond the arc (10-26), while limiting the Ephs to 25.8 percent (8-31) from three-point range. Led by Folgers’s eight rebounds, the Panthers won the rebounding battle 47-35, and also outscored the Ephs in the paint, 34-18.