WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – Middlebury (24-1) spotted Amherst a 16-point first-half lead, but the Panthers came all the way back and downed the Lord Jeffs, 67-61, to advance to tomorrow's NESCAC championship game versus host Williams at noon.
Amherst led for 38:59 of the contest and was up 10 with 8:15 to play, but Middlebury just would not go away.
With 3:08 remaining Middlebury's Andrew Locke scored on a put back of a Nolan Thompson miss to cut the Amherst lead to two at 61-59. The Panthers tied the score with 1:49 remaining when Ryan Sharry collected his own shot that was blocked by Willy Workman and put it in off the glass.
Middlebury's first year guard Joey Kizel put Middlebury in the lead for good when he scored with a left handed layin with 1:01 to play. With 40.8 seconds left Sharry was fouled by Workman and with Middlebury in the bonus Sharry went to the line for two and made both putting the Panthers up 65-61.
Amherst was unable to score on three shots and with 8.2 left the Panthers Kizel was sent to the line for two shots and he made both making the final score 67-61.
Ryan Sharry led the Panthers with a double double featuring 15 points and 13 rebounds. Kizel also hit for double figures with 13. Amherst was led in scoring by senior Connor Meehan, who tallied 18. Also in double figures for the Lord Jeffs were Taylor Barrise (13) and Peter Kaasila (12)
Middlebury out rebounded Amherst by a margin 11 in the game, 49-38. Willy Workman was the Jeffs' top man on the glass with 7.
Senior center Andrew Locke of Middlebury had a NESCAC record 7 blocks in the contest, the old record was six and Locke shared that with three other players.
The final four points of the first half for Amherst came on a jumper and two free throws from guard Connor Meehan, giving Amherst a 38-24 lead at the break.
Amherst's Taylor Barrise had a game-high 13 at the break hitting on 4-6 from the floor and 3-4 from beyond the arc. Meehan was next with 9.
Middlebury was led in scoring by guard Joey Kizel who netted seven.
On the glass the Lord Jeffs collected 19 rebounds to the Panthers' 18 in the first 20 minutes. The Panthers were victimized by 9 turnovers and hitting on only 35% of their shots from the floor 9-26. Amherst on the other hand hit on 48% of their field goals (14-29). Jeff Holmes of Amherst and Jamal Davis of Middlebury were the top rebounders with 4.