Middlebury stymied the up-tempo, full court-pressing Engineers of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) 105-86 in Pepin Gym. The 9-0 Panthers, who never trailed in the contest, used a combination of crisp passing and spacing to get easy buckets with a solid half-court game, using their size to draw 24 fouls that turned into 26 points from the free throw line.
Middlebury opened the game on an 11-2 run, bookended by a pair of lay-ups by Peter Lynch. The Panther lead hovered around 10 points for several minutes, eventually bulging to 14 on a three by Nolan Thompson, for a 26-12 lead at 10:55. The Engineers (5-4) responded with an 8-2 burst, capped by a lay-up by Jamie Zajak at 7:43, setting the score at 28-20. Middlebury built the lead back to 15 on three occasions over the next six minutes, before RPI closed out the final minute with a 6-2 run, with Zajak accounting for four points, cutting the Panther lead to 45-34 at intermission.
James Jensen led the Panther charge in the second half, opening with an 11-6 run with six points, a steal, an assist and an offensive rebound, giving Middlebury a 56-40 lead with 17:27 left to play. RPI kept the deficit around a dozen for the next 10 minutes before a 15-7 Panther run put the game out of reach at 94-75 with 4:55 left. Jack Roberts collected six points on lay-ups, while Jensen added four points from the charity stripe during that span.
Thompson and Lynch each had 21 points for Middlebury, as Lynch added a game-best nine rebounds. Jensen chipped in 18 on 5-10 shooting and was 8-8 from the line, with seven boards off the bench. Hunter Merryman added 14 on 6-9 shooting, while Joey Kizel chipped in 10 with six assists, as Kizel's backcourt mate Jake Wolfin passed out a game-best eight assists. Zajac's 17 paced RPI, as Brendan Farley and Cedric White each chipped in 10 for the Engineers.
For the game, Middlebury held RPI to .388 shooting from the floor and 8-24 from behind the arc, including 0-9 in the first half. The Panthers were 26-33 from the free throw line, including 13-16 in the second half. This is the third game this season the Panthers have broken 100 points.
Babson held off a late charge by Middlebury to pick up a 2-1 win over the 12th-ranked Panthers (4-3-2) in Kenyon Arena. The Beavers (6-2-2) advance to the championship game of the Middlebury College Holiday Classic where they will take on Manhattanville, a 4-1 winner over Wentworth at 4:00 p.m. on Monday. Middlebury will battle Wentworth in the third place game at 1:00 p.m.
Babson took a 1-0 lead 14:39 into the first period with a five-on-three power play goal. Matt Furey made a pass from the right side to Ben Kravitz at the top of the left circle. Kravitz quickly one-timed a shot into the back of the net for his second of the year to put his team up 1-0. The period ended with the shots tied at 9-9.
The Beavers extended their lead 5:05 into the second period, when Phil Saviuk scored the first of his career from the left point with a shot past a screened Liam Moorfield-Yee. Middlebury got on the board at the 14:22 mark with a power play goal. Mathieu Castonguay's shot from the left point on the power play was saved, with George Ordway finishing down low for his third of the season.
Babson's best chance to score in the third period came at 11:38 when Connor Berto hit the crossbar with an open net. The Panthers pulled Moorfield-Yee following at timeout at the 18:21 mark, looking to tie the game. Their best chance came late on a flurry, but a shot from Ben Wiggins was saved by Jamie Murray to preserve the win.
Moorfield-Yee made 24 saves in his collegiate debut, while Murray made 31 stops for Babson. Middlebury held a 33-26 shots advantage in the game.
---Middlebury Athletic Department Press Release---
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