Rood '23 plays well off the bench in men's hoops narrow loss

Conner Rood '23 (Josh McKee photo)
Conner Rood '23 (Josh McKee photo)

Middlebury College's Max Bosco went 2-for-3 at the free-throw line with six seconds left and lifted the Panthers to a 77-76 NESCAC win against the Hamilton College Continentals at Hamilton's Margaret Bundy Scott Field House on Saturday afternoon.

The Continentals (11-3, 1-1 NESCAC) played their second one-point game in as many days after they edged Williams College 79-78 on Friday. Hamilton owned a 34-10 advantage in bench points and finished with 13 offensive rebounds. The Continentals, who received votes in this week's Top 25 poll, travel to Tufts University for another conference contest on Friday, Jan. 17. The Jumbos are 11-2 and also received votes in the most recent poll.

Nationally ranked No. 3 Middlebury (14-1, 1-1) posted a one-point win over Hamilton for the second year in a row. The Panthers used a 9-0 run midway through the second half to take a seven-point lead at 71-64 with 6:05 left.

Kena Gilmour '20 paced the Continenals with 16 points and became the seventh player in team history to reach 1,700 for his career at 1,703. Eric Anderson '22 drained three 3-pointers and finished with 13 points and three blocked shots. Anderson has scored in double figures in six of the last eight games. Conner Rood '23 made the most of his 18 minutes off the bench with season highs of 12 rebounds and three steals, and tied another season best with four assists. Nkosi Cooper '23 chipped in eight points and four assists.

Tommy Eastman led Middlebury with a double-double of 23 points and 12 boards and added three blocked shots. Jack Farrell dropped in 17 points and Max Bosco scored 13. Griffin Kornaker handed out five assists and Matt Folger was credited with three steals.

Ryan Cahill's drive down the lane and thunderous dunk with 6:05 remaining gave the Panthers a 71-64 advantage -- the seven-point lead the largest for either team. Middlebury made just two field goals the rest of the way as Hamilton rallied and nearly recorded their second come-from-behind victory of the weekend.

A free throw by Rood with 3:31 to go started a 12-4 run for the Continentals. Gilmour knocked down two free throws before Farrell scored in the paint. Gilmour countered with a jumper and Anderson regsitered a block, defensive rebound and 3-pointer on the next two possessions. An Eastman layup put the Panthers back up by three at 75-72 but Rood quickly came down to the other end, made a driving layup and was fouled with 1:07 left. He completed the old-fashioned 3-point play and tied the score at 75-75.

Middlebury misfired on its next trip down the floor and Gilmour was fouled with 21.7 seconds remaining. He made the first free throw but the second one spun out, and Bosco was fouled while attempting a shot from beyond the arc. He missed the first one but calmly sank the next two to put the Panthers up by one. Hamilton had a good look at a 3-pointer before the final buzzer but the shot sailed long off the backboard.

Neither team led by more than five in the first half. The Continentals used a late 7-0 run to go up 37-34 with 1:35 to go and went into the break with a 43-40 lead. Cooper scored all eight of his points in the first half.