WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Middlebury advanced to the NESCAC championship game for the third consecutive year after a 67-61 win against Amherst in a semifinal contest at Williams College. The Panthers will meet the host school in the title game on Sunday at Noon ET, with an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on the line.
Middlebury (24-1) spotted Amherst a 16-point first-half lead, but the Panthers came all the way back to earn the win.
Amherst led for 38:59 of the contest and was up 10 points with 8:15 to play, but Middlebury would not go away. With 3:08 remaining Middlebury’s Andrew Locke scored on a put-back of a Nolan Thompson miss to cut the Amherst lead to 61-59. The Panthers tied the score with 1:49 remaining when Ryan Sharry collected his own shot that was blocked by Willy Workman and put it in off the glass.
Middlebury’s Joey Kizel put gave the Panthers their first lead of the game when he scored with a left-handed lay-up with 1:01 to play. With 40.8 seconds left, Sharry was fouled by Workman and knocked both shots down to put the Panthers up 65-61. Amherst was unable to score on three shots and with 8.2 left with Kizel sealing the game with a pair of late free throws.
Ryan Sharry led the Panthers with a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds, while Kizel also hit for double figures with 13. Locke added nine points, seven boards and broke his own NESCAC tourney record with seven blocks in the victory. Amherst was led in scoring by Connor Meehan with 18, Taylor Barrise, who scored 13 and Peter Kaasila with a dozen.
Middlebury out rebounded Amherst 49-38, including a 31-19 edge in the second half. The Panthers were victimized by nine turnovers and hitting on only 35 percent (9 of 26) of their shots from the floor in the first half. Amherst on the other hand hit on 48 percent of their field goals (14 of 29).
Middlebury trailed by as many as 18 in the first half, struggling with 34.6 percent shooting and nine turnovers. Trailing 38-24 at the break, the Panthers used a 10-3 spurt at the 15:43 mark and an 8-0 run later in the half to cut the lead to 57-52 with 7:22 remaining before finishing off the comeback.