Middlebury hands Cortland first home loss to advance in NCAA tournament
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- che Panthers (24-3) will return to action on March 16 when they take on the winner of the Rochester/Ithaca game at a site and time to be determined.
Cortland (24-5) took its biggest lead of the first half when Jeremy Smith hit a 3-pointer at the 8:08 mark to give his team a 23-17 advantage. Middlebury battled back, leading 28-27 before closing the first half on an 8-0 run. A pair of 3s from Joey Kizel sparked the run as the Panthers took a 36-27 lead into the halftime break. Middlebury scored 19 of the half's final 23 points.
The Red Dragons cut the deficit to four in the second half before a jumper from Hunter Merryman gave Middlebury a 47-38 lead at the 14:27 mark. Cortland followed with a 10-2 run during the game’s next 3:26 to tie the score at 48-48 on a 3 from Brian Manning with 11:01 left to play. The run continued and eventually extended to 17-2 when Kevin McMahon’s three-point play gave his team a 55-48 advantage with 8:53 remaining.
Middlebury chipped away, tying the game at 60-60 at the 2:31 mark on a pair of free throws from Kizel. Cortland missed a pair of 3s before Peter Lynch put his team up 62-60. Kizel made 3 of 4 free throws as Middlebury held a 65-60 lead with 27 ticks on the clock. Lamard Herron scored a 3 for Cortland, but Lynch converted a pair of free throws to give Middlebury a comfortable 67-63 lead with 12 seconds remaining.
Cortland missed nine of its final 11 shots from the field down the stretch, much in part to a stingy Panthers defense. The loss was the first of the season at home for the Red Dragons, who fell to 13-1 on their home court. Kizel finished with 22 points on 7 of 12 shooting with four assists, while James Jensen netted 13 with a team-high 11 rebounds. Lynch added 10 points in the win, while Nolan Thompson scored eight.
McMahon led all scorers with 24 points and 11 boards on 11 of 15 shooting from the floor. Jesse Winter added 12 points for the Red Dragons, while Manning netted nine.