MIDDLEBURY OVERCOMES 15-POINT DEFICIT TO DEFEAT TUFTS IN NESCAC OPENER
MEDFORD - Visiting Middlebury College overcame a 15-point second-half deficit and went on to earn a 79-63 victory at Tufts in a NESCAC men's basketball opener on Friday night at Cousens Gymnasium. The Panthers were led by a career-high 27 points from sophomore guard Nolan Thompson (Akron, OH), who had 18 in the second half.
The fifth-ranked Panthers remained unbeaten at 12-0, extending their best start ever. They shot 64.3 percent (18/28) in the second half, including five for six on three-pointers. Senior tri-captain Andrew Locke (Seattle, WA) finished with seven points, eight rebounds and six blocks for Middlebury.
Tufts lost its third straight and dropped to 6-7 overall. The Jumbos were led by sophomore Scott Anderson's (Sudbury, MA) 15 points to go with six rebounds. Junior Alex Orchowski (Cornwall, NY) added 11 points and seven rebounds to the Tufts effort. The Jumbos scored on just eight of 28 shots (28.6 percent) in the second half.
Middlebury grabbed an early 8-2 lead, but the Jumbos controlled the rest of the first half and led by 13 (43-30) at halftime. Tufts sophomore guard Alex Goldfarb (New York, NY) nailed three three-pointers and had 13 points at the break. Senior tri-captain Ryan Wholey (Pelham, NH) led Middlebury with 11 points at halftime.
After the strong Panther start, Tufts outscored the visitors 26-9 during an eight and a half minute stretch to lead 28-17 with 9:28 remaining in the first half. Middlebury cut the gap to six at 36-30 with 4:19 on the clock, but the Jumbos scored the final seven points - five by Goldfarb - to build their healthy lead at the break.
The Jumbos pushed the margin to 15 points twice early in the second half, including 47-32 on Orchowski's lay-up at the 18:21 mark. However, the Panthers began their comeback with a 12-3 run over the next four minutes. They were within six at 50-44 following a lay-up by Locke with 14:28 on the clock.
Tufts was able to hold the lead until a three-point play by Middlebury's Jake Wolfin (Woodcliff Lake, NJ) produced a 54-54 tie at 11:07. The teams went back-and-forth over the next five minutes. Anderson's lay-up for Tufts at 6:45 gave the hosts a 63-62 edge, but those would be the last points of the game for the Jumbos. A three-pointer by Wolfin got Middlebury going on a 17-0 stretch to finish the game. In all, the Panthers produced a 31-point swing during the final 18 minutes of the game (47-16). They out-scored the Jumbos 49-20 in the second half.
Tufts hosts sixth-ranked Williams College in NESCAC action tomorrow at 2 pm, while Middlebury will be at Bates for a league tip-off at the same time.