NCAA Quarterfinals: North Central 77, Middlebury 65

NCAA Quarterfinals: North Central 77, Middlebury 65

Courtesy of Middlebury College Sports Information

SALEM, Va. - The Middlebury men’s basketball team saw its season come to an end with a 77-65 loss to North Central in the NCAA Quarterfinals in Salem, Virgina. The Panthers end their season with a 25-4 record, as the senior class graduates with more wins than any other class in school history (104). The Cardinals improve to 28-3 and will meet Amherst in the semifinals on Saturday night.

Middlebury came out strong early, jumping out to a 13-6 lead on a three from Joey Kizel at the 14:45 mark. North Central answered with a 5-0 run, all five points coming from Vince Kmiec.

The Panthers later came back with a 5-0 spurt of their own, with a three-point play from James Jensen to make it 19-12 with 12:11 left in the first half.

Middlebury went ice cold from the field following a hoop from Jack Roberts at the 9:08 mark, holding a 23-16 lead. The Panthers were 0-4 over the next 6:31 of play, but fortunately were able to connect on 8-10 free throws. Roberts broke the streak with 2:23 remaining, leaving his team with a 35-33 deficit. A late field goal from Landon Gamble sent the Cardinals into the locker room with a 40-37 lead at the half.

Middlebury shot 48% from the floor in the first half, knocking down 11-15 (.733) free throws. Kizel paced the team with 10 points, Peter Lynch netted nine with six boards, while Roberts had eight on 4-4 shooting. Kmiec led all scorers with 17 points on 6-8 shooting from the floor.

Leading 40-37 early in the second half, North Central went on a game-changing run to tke a 60-45 lead with 11:12 remaining on a three from Kmiec. The Cardinals hit three from behind the arc during the run, as Middlebury went 1-7 from the floor. Middlebury stayed within striking distance, coming within eight on a hoop from Kizel with 3:53 remaining to make it a 65-57 game. The Cardinals quickly answered and maintained a lead of 10 or more points for the remainder of the contest.

Kizel led Middlebury with 16 points, Lynch added 12 with nine boards, Roberts scored 10 with seven rebounds, while Jake Wolfin added seven. Middlebury finished the game shooting .410 from the floor. The Panthers connected on 4-14 (.286) from downtown and 15-21 (.714) from the line.

Kimiec scored a career high 31 for North Central on 10-15 shooting, Landon Gambe scored 19 with 11 rebounds, while Pat Rourke scored 10. The Cardinals connected on just over 48% of their shots, going 8-16 from long range and 19-29 (.655) from the line.