Men's basketball defeats Middlebury, now first in NESCAC

Kena Gilmour '20 (Josh McKee photo)
Kena Gilmour '20 (Josh McKee photo)

Hamilton College's Kena Gilmour '20 poured in a career-high 29 points and the nationally ranked No. 15 Continentals posted a 102-83 NESCAC win against No. 5 Middlebury College at Hamilton's Margaret Bundy Scott Field House on Friday night.

The Continentals (20-2, 7-2 NESCAC) moved into a tie for first place in the conference standings with Middlebury with one NESCAC game remaining. Hamilton hosts No. 8 Williams College on Saturday, Feb. 10 at 3 p.m. and the Panthers travel to Amherst College on Saturday. A win by the Continentals against Williams would give them the No. 1 seed in the 2018 NESCAC Men's Basketball Championship. Hamilton -- winners of four straight -- has 20 victories in a season for the first time since 2005-06 when the Continentals finished 23-5.

Middlebury (19-4, 7-2) had its win streak snapped at 11 games. The Panthers could still grab the No. 1 seed with a win at Amherst and a Hamilton loss on Saturday.

Gilmour was 10 of 15 from the field, including a perfect 4 of 4 from 3-point range, and he went 5-for-5 at the free-throw line. He also collected a team-high six rebounds. Tim Doyle '19 chipped in 19 points, Peter Hoffmann '19 added 11 points and three steals, and Michael Grassey '19 dropped in 11 points. Andrew Groll '19 scored nine off the bench before he fouled out.

Eric McCord paced Middlebury with 21 points and three steals in 26 minutes off the bench. Matt Folger scored all 17 of his points in the second half before fouling out. Jack Daly filled the stat sheet with 15 points, nine boards and six assists, and Jack Farrell finished with 11 points. Daly goes into tomorrow's season finale with 996 career points.

The Continentals buried the Panthers under an avalanche of 3-pointers as Hamilton shot 15 of 24 (62.5 percent) from deep and 52.5 percent (31-59) overall from the floor. The Continentals also went 25-for-32 (78.1 percent) at the line. Middlebury owned a commanding 20-0 advantage in second-chance points and outscored Hamilton 48-26 in the paint.

Hamilton scored the first four points and never trailed. In fact, the score was tied just twice at 6-6 and 8-8. The Continentals held a 38-32 lead at the break and both teams came out firing in the second half. Hamilton took its first 10-point lead at 53-43 on a layup by Groll with 14:19 left.

The Panthers scored seven straight points and cut their deficit to three at 56-53 with 11:41 remaining. Adisa Majors and McCord scored from close range and Folger canned a 3-pointer for Middlebury. The Continentals pushed their lead back to 10 at 67-57 with an 11-4 run over the next 2:10. Grassey started it with a trifecta and a layup, Ty Washington '21 answered a McCord basket with a 3-pointer, and Doyle swished another shot from beyond the arc after a Folger layup.

The Panthers didn't get closer than seven points during the final 10 minutes, and Hamilton went up by double digits for good at 83-73 on a Hoffmann layup with 3:46 to go. A Gilmour dunk on a fast break made it 91-75 with 2:20 left and put an exclamation point on the Continentals' victory.

Hamilton's Jack Dwyer '18 scored all eight of his points and added three assists in the second half. Dwyer made two big 3-pointers midway through the half to keep the Continentals comfortably in front. Gilmour scored 17 of his 29 points in the final 20 minutes. Hamilton shot 69 percent from the floor, including 9 of 13 from 3-point range, in the second half.

A pair of 3-pointers by Doyle staked the Continentals to a 14-8 advantage with 13:49 left in the first half. Majors pulled Middlebury within one at 14-13 on a layup with 12:53 remaining but Hamilton responded with a 9-3 run and built a 23-16 cushion with 10:36 to go. Doyle made the first of two free throws and Groll went 2-for-2 at the charity stripe. After McCord scored in the paint and made a free throw, Grassey nailed two 3-pointers for the seven-point lead.

The Panthers closed to within a point again at 24-23 with 7:37 left on baskets by Farrell and McCord and three free throws by Daly. The Continentals countered with eight straight points by Gilmour and assumed their largest lead of the half of nine points at 32-23 with 6:24 remaining.

Middlebury trimmed its deficit to a point for the third time by going on its own 8-0 run. Daly started the spurt with two free throws, Max Bosco drained a basket from beyond the arc, and Hilal Dahleh converted an old-fashioned 3-point play that made it 32-31 with 4:19 to go.

Hamilton held the Panthers without a field goal the rest of the half and the Continentals scored six points -- the last of which was a layup by Hoffmann that gave Hamilton a 38-32 lead with 1:16 left. The Continentals took that six-point advantage into the break.

Hamilton made 6 of 11 shots from 3-point range during the first 20 minutes. Middlebury committed 12 turnovers but held a 26-18 advantage on the glass. The teams combined to commit 23 fouls.