Joey Kizel paced Middlebury with a career-high 12 assists in a 115-74 victory over the College of St. Joseph's. With the win, the Panthers improve to 12-5 overall and hold a sparkling 14-0 advantage in the series with the Fighting Saints (8-10). Middlebury, winners of six-straight games, return to the hardcourt on January 31st to face NESCAC rival Williams in Pepin Gym.
Leading 19-17 midway through the first half, the Panthers closed out the final 9:28 of the opening stanza with a decisive 33-13 run. Eight Panthers contributed during the run as Dylan Sinnickson chipped in eight of his 12 first half points during the span. Bryan Jones added seven points and three helpers, while Kizel notched five points and five of his 10 first half assists.
Holding a 52-30 advantage to open the second half, the Panthers maintained a 20-point cushion during the next seven minutes. Kizel collected his 11th assist on a set-up for a Sinnickson three at 17:11, and his final helper at 13:00 on a long ball from Hunter Merryman, setting the score at 71-49. The Panthers hit the century mark at 4:58, when James Jensen knocked down a free throw, giving the hosts a 100-65 lead, as they cruised to a 115-74 win over their in-state foes.
The 115 points are the most for the Panthers since netting 117 at Green Mountain College on November 20th, 2012. Middlebury also set a season-high mark with 32 helpers on 39 baskets. For the game, a total of 47 fouls were called and each team connected on 22 free throws (Middlebury: 22-27, St. Joseph's: 22-35).
Fifteen Panthers got in the scoring column, led by Sinnickson's 17 points on 7-13 shooting, including 3-6 from long distance. Merryman chipped in 16 points, hitting 4-5 from downtown, while Jake Nidenberg finished 5-5 from the floor, collecting 11 points in 14 minutes of action. Kizel ended the night with eight points and his career-high 12 assists, while Jones netted 10 points and dished out seven assists in 13 minutes of play.
Rahiem Smalls led the Fighting Saints with 16 points on 6-18 shooting and a team-high eight rebounds, as Dre Anderson chipped in a dozen and Michael Bowers added 11 points off the bench.