Men’s Hoops: Panthers Reach Break 10-0, Top Morrisville 72-55

Courtesy Middlebury Sports Information

MIDDLEBURY — Five Panthers scored in double figures, as the fourth-ranked Middlebury men’s basketball team pulled away from visiting Morrisville State for a 72-55 victory on Monday. The Panthers (10-0) return to action on January 3, facing Colby-Sawyer in the opening round of the Hampton Inn West Springfield/Naismith Classic hosted by Springfield, while the Mustangs (3-6) are idle until January 9 with a road contest at SUNY-Delhi.

The game was close through the early stages, with the hosts using a modest 6-0 run, capped by a jumper by Max Bosco in transition for a 12-6 lead with 14:31 on the clock. The Mustangs crawled back to within 12-11 and later took their initial lead of the contest with 6:31 remaining in the opening half. Morrisville State jumped in front 20-19 on a jumper by Kevin Dennis, but the hosts ended the first frame on a 12-4 run. Tommy Eastman sank two free throws with 3:26 on the clock, before making a layup in the paint on a nice feed from Matt Folger.

Following a bucket by Rahmell Smith for the Mustangs, Folger drained back-to-back three pointers for a 29-22 advantage. The hosts maintained that seven-point edge at the break with a 31-24 cushion.

The pace picked up tine the second stanza, with Middlebury using a modest 14-9 burst in the first five minutes to push the lead to 45-33 lead. Alex Sobel cashed in on a fast-break bucket on a feed from Jack Farrell. The Mustangs crept back to within five points at 47-42 on a conventional three-point play from Justin Mitchell. The Panthers slowly began to pull away, using a 15-6 run covering more than seven minutes for a 62-48 advantage. Sobel kicked off the surge with baskets on consecutive possessions, while Ryan Cahill chipped in with five points during that span.

The hosts took their biggest lead of the contest (70-53) with just over a minute remaining, as Sobel set up Folger for a layup in the paint. Jon Brennan netted the final field goal for the Mustangs on the ensuing trip down the court, while Sobel capped the scoring from in the lane for the 72-55 final.

Sobel led the Panthers with 15 points on 7-12 shooting from the floor, while Folger notched his fourth double-double of the season with 14 points and 12 rebounds. He also moved into 16th place on the program’s career scoring list with 1,070 points, moving past Jack Daly (2014-18). Bosco chipped in with 12 points, Eastman netted 11, while Farrell had 10 points and six boards.

Dennis paced Morrisville State with 12 points and a team best seven rebounds, while Tyrin Miller and Brennan each finished with nine points.

Middlebury shot 48.3 percent (29-60) from the floor, while limiting the Mustangs to 33.3 percent (21-62). The Panthers also held a slim 38-37 edge in rebounding.