Men’s Hoops: Panthers Hand Tufts First NESCAC Defeat, 86-74

Courtesy Middlebury Sports Information

MIDDLEBURY — Tenth-ranked Middlebury topped #18 Tufts 86-74 on Friday night in Pepin Gymnasium. The win marks the third 20-win season in the last four years for the Panthers (20-3, 6-3), while the Jumbos suffered their first NESCAC loss of the season. Both teams wrap up the regular season on Saturday with 3:00 p.m. contests. Middlebury hosts Bates for senior day, while Tufts (18-5, 8-1) travels to Williams.

Trailing 9-3, the Panthers scored six-straight points to knot the game 9-9 on a tip-in from Matt Folger at the 16:57 mark. The teams traded the next six baskets, before a jumper from Perry DeLorenzo at the 14:23 mark gave Middlebury its first lead of the game (17-16). The contest was tied three times over the ensuing 8:37. Down by one (34-33), the Panthers went on an 8-0 run capped by a layup from Max Bosco, making it 44-36 with 58 seconds remaining in the half. A late layup by Tufts’ Dylan Thoerner cut the Jumbo deficit to six (44-38) heading into the intermission.

Middlebury scored the first five points out of the break, making it 49-38 with 32 seconds elapsed. The Panthers slowly increased the lead, extending the advantage to 68-54 on a pair of charity tosses from Bosco at the 8:44 mark. Tufts cut the deficit to 10 (70-60) on a three from Brennan Morris with 7:05 remaining, before an 8-0 run over the ensuing 1:38 gave Middlebury a 78-60 lead. The Jumbos went on an 8-0 run of their own late with a pair of shots from beyond the arc by Casey Mclaren to cut the deficit to 11 (85-74), but that’s as close as they would get as the Panthers came away with the 86-74 triumph.

Bosco led all players with 26 points. Folger recorded his eighth double-double of the season and 24th of his career with 18 points, 14 rebounds. He also had a pair of swipes, which gave him an even 100 for his career. Tommy Eastman tallied his sixth double-double of the year with 14 points and 11 boards, while DeLorenzo had 10 points and Griffin Kornacker dished out five assists. Jack Farrell had a game-high eight assists to go along with eight boards. The Panthers shot 49.3% from the floor and held a 45-36 rebounding advantage.

Morris led Tufts with 23 points, while Luke Rogers recorded a double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Eric Savage chipped in with eight points and four assists for the Jumbos.