January 20, 2001
AMHERST, MA - Middlebury College jumped out to a 47-35 halftime lead and never looked back on the way to a 102-87 victory, handing host Amherst (10-2/1-1 NESCAC) its first conference loss of the season on Saturday. The Panthers (8-6/1-1 NESCAC) shot 65.0 percent (13-for-20) from behind the three-point arc including a 6-for-6 performance by senior center Andrew Shogan (Lafayette, CA).
The two teams entered the game traveling in different directions, with the red-hot Jeffs riding a nine-game winning streak, including an emotional 59-57 win over arch-rival Williams College in last night's NESCAC opener, while Middlebury lost its conference-opener Friday night at Trinity and had dropped four of its last five.
Determined to reverse their fortune, the Panthers came out on fire, hitting their first three shots of the game - all three-pointers - and dominating the first half, leading by as many as 18 points on the way to a 47-35 halftime lead. The Panthers were a perfect 12-for-12 from the free throw line before the break and shot a blistering 58.3 percent (7-for-12) from three-point land and 53.8 percent (14-for-26) from the field.
Middlebury was able to keep the lead at double-digits for most of the second half until Amherst stepped up its defensive intensity and embarked on a 8-0 mini-run, sparked by a pair of buckets and a free-throw by junior forward Pat Taverna (Whitesboro, NY), that cut the lead to 87-95 with 1:11 remaining.
With the clock winding down, Amherst was forced to foul and Middlebury sealed the game from the free throw line down the stretch, shooting 8-for-9 from the charity stripe inside the final minute.
The Panthers placed four players in double-figures including a game-high 28 points by senior guard Jon Cormier (Trumbull, CT), who finished 8-for-12 from the field, 3-for-5 from behind the arc and a perfect 9-for-9 from the free throw line. Meanwhile, Shogan shot a scorching 8-for-10 overall on the strength of his six three-pointers, while sophomore forward Eric Bundonis (Fairfield, CT) and John Barrett (Mountain Lakes, NJ) added 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Sophomore forward Steve Zieja (Hadley, MA) was a one-man show for the Jeffs with a season and career-high 29 points to go along with a team-high 10 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season. Also in double-figures, senior Co-captain Brian Daoust (Dover, MA) added 21 points while Taverna poured in a season-high 11 points off the bench.
Middlebury's 102 points was the highest point-total for an Amherst opponent since the Jeffs dropped a 118-111 thriller to non-league rival Clark University on Nov. 30 in their only other loss of the season.
Amherst returns to action this Friday at NESCAC rival Bates College at 7 p.m.
Game Box Score