MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Senior forward Maddie Bledsoe was incredible in her first NESCAC Tournament game of her career as she went off for game-highs of 22 points and 11 rebounds to help lead the fifth-seeded Wesleyan University women's basketball team to a thrilling 63-62 road win over fourth-seeded Middlebury College Saturday afternoon in the conference quarterfinals.
With the win, the Cardinals (17-7) advance to the NESCAC Semifinals for the first time since the 2007-08 season and the fifth time overall. Wesleyan will play at top-seeded and nationally-ranked No. 1 Amherst next Saturday, Feb. 24 with a game time to be determined. The Panthers (17-8) await their NCAA Tournament fate.
FIRST HALF HIGHLIGHTS:
- The Cardinals went off for 19 points in the final 5:30 of the first quarter.
- Olivia Gorman '19 hit back-to-back three-pointers to start the hot streak and a layup by Bledsoe with 1:03 remaining capped off a 19-4 Wesleyan run.
- Betsy Knox scored a basket with 00:08 on the clock to cut the deficit to 12.
- The second quarter went back-and-forth often and a pair of free throws by Berger with 1:20 to go in the half gave the Cardinals a 36-26 lead.
- However, a basket by Kira Waldman followed by a buzzer-beater by Knox got the Panthers within six at the half.
SECOND HALF HIGHLIGHTS:
- A layup by Maya Davis in the opening seconds of the third quarter cut the deficit to four, but Wesleyan responded with a 10-0 run to regain a 14-point advantage with 5:06 to play.
- The Panthers hit a pair of jumpers down the stretch to get within seven entering the fourth quarter, 49-42.
- Both teams struggled to score early in the fourth but back-to-back layups by Bledsoe put Wesleyan up by 12 with 5:53 remaining in regulation.
- Middlebury responded with an 11-0 run as a basket by Ivy Houde cut the deficit to one, 56-55, with 2:50 on the clock.
- However, a three-pointer by Ava Tompkins '20 followed by a pair of free throws by Gorman made it a six-point game with just 35 ticks to play.
- Down by three with two seconds remaining, Sarah Kaufman was fouled while attempting a three-pointer but missed her first attempt before making the next two as the Cardinals held on to win.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- Bledsoe, who also dished out three assists, was joined in double-figures by Gorman who dropped 19 points. Tompkins led the team with four assists and Heidi Scarth '20 blocked a game-high four shots.
- Kira Waldman led Middlebury with 14 points while Davis and Catherine Harrison each scored 10 and grabbed seven rebounds. Waldman also registered four assists and Alex Huffman pulled in seven boards. Knox registered three steals and eight points.
- Wesleyan hit 19-of-41 shots and went 7-of-18 from three-point range.