Middlebury did not open the New Year the way they wanted, dropping a 76-69 game at Salve Regina. A 20-4 run late in the second half sparked the Seahawks (7-2) to the upset victory over the #19 Panthers (6-3) at the Rodgers Recreation Center.
Barrett Hanlon played all 40 minutes and led all scorers with 28 points. Hunter Merryman scored 11 points during a 13-2 run for the Panthers as they opened their largest lead of the game (15-7) with 13:57 remaining in the first half. Merryman connected on three-pointers on back-to-back possessions for the visitors.
There were three ties and four lead changes in the first half. Joey Kizel went 10-10 from the free throw line in the opening period as Middlebury went into the break up by three, 35-32. The Panthers had 26 free throw attempts in the first 20 minutes, outscoring the Seahawks, 19-6, from the charity stripe.
In the second half, Patrick Dinneen asserted himself from the outset while scoring two quick layups for Salve Regina. Hanlon had a conventional three-point play to tie the score at 39-39.
James Jensen made a pair of free throws and sank a layup for Middlebury while Jeff Bielefeld and Dinneen both had game-tying layups at 16:26 and 13:41, respectively. After Merryman's layup made the score 47-45 in favor of Middlebury, Joshua Hohlfelder swished a three-point shot from in front of his bench to start the 20-4 run.
Dinneen had two layups during the run while Hanlon fashioned another old-style three-point play. Bielefeld had his own basket and free throw and classmate Hohlfelder knocked down another three-point basket. Salve Regina's largest lead (14 points; 65-51) came after a free throw from Nicholas Bates at 4:35 in the second.
Merrymen put an end to the merriment with a layup at 3:40, and Jensen drained a pair of free throws at 3:02 before Matt St. Amour connected on a three in front of his bench to cut the deficit in half in less than a minute.
Bielefeld earned a tip-in with his efforts at the offensive end before Dinneen's layup at 2:13 regained the double-digit lead. Middlebury had the margin down to five (74-69 with 10 seconds remaining) on scoring from Kizel and Jake Brown; both had field goals and free throws down the stretch.
Hanlon's free throws with eight seconds remaining finished the scoring. Hohlfelder had 11 points for Salve Regina, while Dinneen finished with 19 points, 15 in the final 20 minutes. Bielefeld led all rebounders with a dozen boards.
Kizel netted 21 points in the game (16-18 FT's), followed by Merryman with 19 and Jensen with 11 boards.
The Panthers host Plattsburgh State next Tuesday in Middlebury.