Rochester, N.Y. – No. 2 Middlebury College dashed the hopes of a Final Four appearance for No. 13 St. Mary's College of Maryland as the Panthers (28-1) handed St. Mary's a 65-50 setback in the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship Tournament Sectional Final hosted by the University of Rochester in the Louis Alexander Palestra Saturday night. Middlebury outscored the Seahawks, 40-23, in the second half to advance to the school's first-ever Final Four appearance.
The loss brings to a close the Seahawks' 2010-11 campaign as St. Mary's finishes with a 25-6 record, one win shy of tying last season's school record 26 wins. The senior class leaves St. Mary's with the most impressive resume of any four-year class: 91-27 (51-13 CAC) record; three NCAA appearances; three Capital Athletic Conference championship titles; three CAC regular-season titles; and three consecutive 20-win seasons.
Only senior guard Alex Franz (Catonsville, Md./Cardinal Gibbons) and sophomore guard Chris Hutchinson (Owings Mills, Md./New Town) scored in double digits for the Seahawks. Franz tallied a game-best 16 points, five assists and four steals while Hutchinson notched 10 points and five rebounds.
Dealing with an early 2-0 deficit, St. Mary's responded with a 7-0 run and stretched a five-point lead to a 23-13 advantage as first-year guard Kyle Wise (Baltimore, Md./Calvert Hall) converted on two free throws at 6:14. The Panthers quickly closed the gap to 23-22 following a 9-0 run in a span of 3:02 as a three-pointer by sophomore guard Nolan Thompson (Akron, Ohio/University School) capped the run.
The Seahawks held on for a 27-25 halftime lead as Franz led all scorers with 10 first-half points on 5-of-8 shooting.
Middlebury took control of the game with a 13-2 run in the first seven minutes of the second half then built a nine-point lead, 38-29, with just over 13 minutes to play. The Panthers shot lights out with 62.5 percent shooting in the second stanza.
Middlebury held the Seahawks to 33.9 percent shooting for the game as St. Mary's made just 3-of-13 from outside the arc. Senior center Andrew Locke (Seattle, Wash./Lakeside School) was a wall that the Seahawk players could not get around as Locke blocked six shots.
Four Panthers scored in double figures for Middlebury as sophomore guard Jake Wolfin (Woodcliff Lake, N.J./Pascack Hills) scored 16 points and handed out nine assists. Locke tallied 13 points and nine boards while junior forward Ryan Sharry (Braintree, Mass./Boston College HS) had 11 points and 10 caroms while Thompson finished with 10 points.
St. Mary's has now played in three NCAA Tournaments and owns a 7-3 all-time record in tournament contests.