Middlebury used excellent long distance shooting (7-14) and perfection from the free throw line (17-17) to pull away from visiting Skidmore in a non-league contest 74-53 in Pepin Gym. Trailing by as many as eight points early in the game, Middlebury (8-0) closed out the half shooting 70% from the floor, including a perfect 5-5 from behind the arc, turning an eight-point deficit into a five-point lead at the break.
Panton, Vermont native Connor Merrill got the Thoroughbreds (5-2) going, starting a 7-0 run on a jumper. By the 11:06 mark, Skidmore’s lead grew to 16-8 on a three by Brian Moore. The teams traded a pair of buckets each before the Panthers started their blistering shooting performance to close out the half.
Nolan Thompson’s first three sparked the run at 8:29, cutting the deficit to 20-15. After a pair of Panther buckets followed a Merrill lay-up, Thompson struck again with his second three at 3:27. Trailing 28-24 after a basket by Skidmore’s Doolun Anyam at 1:52, a trifecta of threes ended the half for the Panthers. Joel Kizel had back-to back treys, giving Middlebury its first lead at 30-28 with 51 seconds left. In the final seconds of the half, Kizel set up Hunter Merryman for the buzzer-beating trey and a 33-28 lead at the break.
The Panthers used a 16-6 run to open the second half, building a 49-34 lead with 12:34 on the clock. Three times the Thoroughbreds cut the lead to 11 over the next few minutes, but they could not get the deficit down to single-digits. Leading 56-45 with 8:48 remaining, Middlebury used a 12-2 burst to pull away over the next three minutes, cruising to the 74-53 victory.
Five Panthers hit double-digits in scoring, led by Peter Lynch’s 16. The backcourt duo of Kizel and Jake Wolfin had 15 and 12 points respectively, as Wolfin hit 8-8 free throws. Thompson grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds with his 15 points for a double-double, as Merryman chipped in 10 off the bench.
Aldin Medunjanin led all scorers with 17, hitting 6-14 from the floor, while Merrill added 15 on 6-12 shooting for Skidmore.