MIDDLEBURY-Middlebury College will make its first appearance in the final four after the Panthers topped St. Mary's (Maryland) by a score of 65-50 in a sectional final in Rochester, N.Y.
Middlebury will take on St. Thomas in a semifinal game on March 18 in Salem, Va., while Williams meets Wooster in the other semifinal contest. The Panthers continue to improve on their school-record with a 28-1 mark.
Despite shooting .478 from the floor in the first half, Middlebury found themselves trailing 23-13 with 6:14 remaining. The Panthers came alive late in the half, going on a 9-0 run behind a two and a three from Nolan Thompson and a dunk from Andrew Locke to cut the lead to 23-22 with 3:12 left to playing. Middlebury entered the intermission trailing 27-25, with 13 first half turnovers, while forcing 10 from St. Mary's.
Middlebury came out firing in the second half, opening with an 11-2 run to take a 38-29 lead at the 13:48 mark. Ryan Sharry hit a two and a three to start the run, with Jake Wolfin scoring four points in the early spurt. The Seahawks came within five with 12:25 remaining on a hoop from Kyle Wise, but that's as close as they'd get.
The Panthers methodically increased their lead, reaching double-digits for good with 6:18 left on a dunk from Sharry with a helper from Wolfin. Middlebury led by as many as 16 in the game, ending with a 65-50 victory.
Wolfin netted 16 points on 7 of 11 shooting with nine assists and three steals. Sharry scored 11 with 10 boards, while Locke scored 13 with nine boards and six blocks. Thompson added 10 points in the win, while Joey Kizel netted seven with four assists off the bench. Alex Franz led St. Mary's with 16, while Chris Hutchinson scored 10.
Middlebury shot a red-hot .625 in the second half, finishing the game at .553, going 4 of 10 from behind the arc. The Panthers held St. Mary's to .339 from the floor, including 3 of 13 from three-point range.