JOHNSON, Vt. – Despite holding a 21-20 lead with 6:31 remaining in the first half host Johnson State saw visiting and #5 nationally ranked Middlebury College close the half on a 18-5 run and then pull away for the easy 81-43 non-conference men's basketball victory on Sunday at Carter Gym. The Badgers fall to 0-5, 0-0 North Atlantic Conference (NAC) while Middlebury improves to 4-0, 0-0 New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC).
The Panthers put four players in double-figures with junior guard Nolan Thompson (Akron, Ohio/University School) leading the way with 13 points and four steals. Junior forward Peter Lynch (Westford, Mass./Westford Academy) recorded a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds while freshman Dean Brierley (Morristown, N.J./Delbarton) also added 11. Sophomore James Jensen (North White Plains, N.Y./Valhalla) chipped in with 10 points and seven rebounds.
The Badgers had a fine start and led 15-11 after a pair of Phelps free throws with 11:14 left in the first half. Phelps accounted for nine of the Badgers first 15 points in the span.
The vaunted Middlebury defense would take control of the contest as the Panthers held Johnson to just 18% (5-28) shooting during the games' second 20 minutes while also finishing possessions earning a 24-8 rebounding advantage in the second half. Middlebury held the Badgers to an astonishing seven field goals over the game's final 26 minutes.
Johnson State will next travel to Henniker, New Hampshire for their NAC opener against the Pilgrims of New England College on Thursday, December 1 with a tip-off scheduled for 5:30 pm. Middlebury will play at Southern Vermont College on Tuesday, November 29 at 8:00 pm in their next contest.