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Tuesday, Feb 20, 2024

Hanley Leads High-Flying Panthers

Author: Emily Berlanstein

The Panther women's basketball team continued its roller coaster ride of a season with a loss to Bowdoin and a win over Colby last week, prefaced by a win at Amherst and a loss at Trinity the previous week. However, a landmark event, Kristin Hanley's '03 1,000 point, has seemed to spark the Panthers as they head into a hectic part of the schedule, with three upcoming games. Hanley is the eighth player in school history to accomplish this feat and only the third to accumulate over 1,000 points and 500 rebounds.

Riding on Hanley's personal achievement, the Panthers' determination and perseverance earned them the win in a nail-biter against Colby College last Saturday. Throughout the first half, the lead fluctuated frequently as the teams combined for 22 turnovers.

Late in the second half however, the Panthers sealed the win with 2:39 remaining as Hanley and Jena Siegel '04 each hit key three-pointers, followed by a lay-up that gave Middlebury a confidence boosting seven-point spread. Alexis Hollinger '05 and Megan McCosker '02 led the team with 12 points each, but the victory was "a true team effort and an exhibition of what it means to want the game more than your opponent does," commented Karen Lee '05.

The day before the Panthers did not fare as well. Despite a strong second half effort, Middlebury fell to Bowdoin, 57-43. The Polar Bears, at 15-0, are ranked second in the nation in the most recent Division III Hoops Online ( poll. They are off to the best start in school history and have routed other top New England opponents, such as Bates and Williams. In only its fourth loss of the season the Panthers certainly gave Bowdoin a run for its money, particularly in the second half, where it outscored the Polar Bears 28-22.

Bowdoin opened the game shooting over 59 percent and holding the Panthers to just 19 percent and 15 points. Although Bowdoin appeared neither tall nor extremely athletic, its ability to execute plays and read one another was remarkable.

The Middlebury defense seemed befuddled by their backdoor cuts and effective post passing game. In the second half, the Panthers finally adjusted to the Bowdoin offense, but it was too late as time ran down. No Middlebury player reached double figures, but Alexis Batten '04 led the team with nine points. For the Polar Bears, Lora Trenkle had 14 points and Kristi Royer added 12 points and 10 rebounds.

One week earlier, the Panthers were on the other side of the fence as it handed Amherst its fourth straight loss. The Panthers shot 48 percent from the field and controlled the boards (42-30) en route to a 73-60 win. Batten and Hanley each scored 22, and McCosker nearly earned a triple-double with 11 points, nine assists, and nine rebounds including four steals. Behind an 11-4 run, the Lord Jeffs were leading early on, but, about a minute into the second half, McCosker put the Panthers ahead. The lead fluctuated for some time, until Hanley tipped in a missed shot and ignited a 12-3 run. At that point, the Lord Jeffs simply could not keep up with the Panther momentum.

The Panthers' weekend was one of inconsistencies, as it fell to Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., a day before defeating Amherst. The game was back and forth once again, but with three minutes remaining Trinity hit a crucial three-pointer, which began a run during which two Bantams hit five out of six free throws to ice the win. Middlebury was lead by Batten, who obtained a double-double with 18 points and 12 boards. Hanley also contributed 11 points and six rebounds, and McCosker added seven assists.

Feeling confident behind wins over Colby and Amherst, the Panthers are eager to face more New England Small College Athletic Conference foes this week. This weekend they will travel to Connecticut College and Wesleyan University. With 1,000 points now under her belt, Hanley's confidence should lead the way for Middlebury as it work to learn from its mistakes and gain motivation from its victories.

On Tuesday night the Panthers continued their winning ways with a 68-62 victory over Colby-Sawyer College. The win was great for the Panthers, as they defeated a fired-up Chargers squad who were looking to get back on track following a tough overtime loss on Saturday to Salve Regina, before which they had won five straight games. With the win, Middlebury improved their record to a stellar 13-4, and will look to take wins from many of their upcoming NESCAC foes; facing conference foes in five of the next six games.