Men’s Hoop: Wiillams Edges Middlebury, Ending Panthers Season in the NCAA Elite 8

Courtesy Middlebury Sports Information

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury had a pair of chances to tie Williams in the final 10 seconds, but the Ephs held off the Panthers and made two late free throws for a 79-75 win on Saturday in the NCAA Division III Quarterfinals in Pepin Gymnasium. Middlebury (27-4) saw its 14-game winning streak come to an end, earning the second-most wins in program history. Williams (23-8) advances to the national semifinals next weekend to face Augustana.

The Ephs netted the opening bucket of the contest, but the hosts went on a 12-3 run to take the lead. Jack Daly and Matt St. Amour each hit three-pointers, while St. Amour capped the run with a fast-break lay-up after taking a behind-the-back pass in transition from Jake Brown. Buckets by Marcos Soto and Michael Kempton closed the gap to 12-9 for the visitors, but Middlebury used a modest 5-0 run to take a 17-9 lead. Daly made three free throws to start the run and Nick Tarantino scored in the paint for the eight-point lead.

The Panthers led by eight points again, but Matthew Karpowicz put back an offensive rebound and Cole Teal hit a three-pointer as the Ephs quickly closed the gap to 28-25 with 7:56 showing on the clock. Williams tied the game for the first time at 33-33 on a three-pointer by Bobby Casey and a possession later, jumped in front on a lay-up by Daniel Aronowitz with 2:26 left in the half. The difference stayed two points at the intermission with the guests holding a 39-37 lead.

Middlebury started the second stanza with a three from Daly, kicking off a 9-2 burst that put the hosts back in front at 46-41. The Ephs later utilized eight-straight points to vault into the lead at 57-51 just over eight minutes into the half. The Panthers responded with back-to-back threes from Daly and Bryan Jones, closing the gap to 60-59.

Williams doubled Middlebury’s output the next five plus minutes (14-7), extending its lead to 74-66. Daly hit a pair from the foul line, but Kyle Scadlock sank a key three-pointer from the left side for Williams, making it a 77-68 lead with just over two minutes left to play. Middlebury cut into the difference, scoring seven-straight points from the charity stripe in the final two minutes. Daly’s two free throws with 38.5 seconds left made it a two-point game at 77-75.

A missed free throw by Scadlock with 21 seconds left gave the Panthers a chance to tie the game or pull ahead. Daly got off a shot from in the paint and Matt Folger collected the offensive rebound for a second opportunity, but the Ephs gained possession. Soto made two free throws with 6.2 seconds on the clock to secure the win and prevent Middlebury from advancing to the program’s second final four.

Daly tied a career high with 23 points to go along with seven rebounds, four steals and three assists. St. Amour netted 14 points, while Brown also reached double figures with 10 points. Eric McCord led Middlebury with nine rebounds and Adisa Majors tacked on eight boards.

The Ephs had four players reach double digits in scoring, led by Scadlock (14), Teal (12), Casey (12) and Aronowitz (10). Aronowitz added a game-high 12 rebounds for the double-double.

The Panthers shot 36.4 percent (24-66) from the floor, while Williams hit 49.1 percent (28-57). Middlebury held a 45-37 advantage on the glass and set a new team single-season record with 1,294 rebounds. The hosts took advantage of 17 Eph turnovers, with a 25-6 edge in points off turnovers.

The Panthers split their two games with the Ephs earlier this season. Williams won 89-65 in Williamstown, Massachusetts on January 22, while Middlebury earned an 84-62 victory against the Ephs in the NESCAC Championship on February 26 in a game played at Tufts.

The loss was only the second of the season for the Panthers in Pepin Gym, with the other coming back in November as the team finished with a home record of 16-2.