Hartford, Conn., Feb. 18, 2009 - The Trinity College men's basketball team, which finished with a regular season record of 10-13 and finished tied with Amherst and Wesleyan for seventh place in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) at 3-6, will visit the Middlebury College Panthers in the quarterfinal round of the NESCAC Championship Tournament on Saturday, Feb. 20 at 3 p.m. The Bantams, coached by Sean Tabb (2nd Season), closed the regular season with a 71-57 loss to then-No. 7-ranked Middlebury on Friday and an 83-66 defeat against No. 2-ranked NESCAC rival Williams the next day. Tickets will cost $5 for adults and $3 for students and Saturday's will be webcast live and free of charge at http://gomidd.tv/login.php.
Middlebury shot 60.7 percent (17-for-28) from the field and 66.7 percent (8-for-12) from beyond the three-point line on Friday, while junior guard Ian Fels (Miami, Fla.) scored a team-high 11 points and junior tri-captain forward Luke MacDougall (Baldwinsville, N.Y.) totaled 10 points and a game-high eight rebounds for the Bantams. Against Williams, Fels again paced Trinity with 22 points, while sophomore guard Salah Abdo (Chelsea, Mass.) had 12 points, and sophomore center Chris Applegate (High Point, N.C.) pulled down a game-high seven rebounds.
Trinity has qualified for the NESCAC Championship Tournament in each of the 10 years of its existence, including 2007-08 when the Bantams downed Middlebury in the only meeting between the teams in the tournament two years ago, 72-63, in the semifinals on the way to its only league title. The winner of the NESCAC Championship Tournament will determine the league's automatic qualifier for the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament. Trinity is the No. 7 seed and Middlebury (21-2, 8-1) is seeded No. 2. Top-seeded Williams (23-1, 9-0) plays No. 8-seeded Wesleyan (11-13, 3-6), No. 3-seeded Colby (18-5, 6-3) hosts No. 6-seeded Amherst (14-10, 3-6), No. 4-seeded Bates (13-11, 5-4) hosts No. 5-seeded Bowdoin (13-11, 4-5) in the other first round games on Saturday. The highest remaining seed after the quarterfinal round will host the semifinal and final rounds on Feb. 27 and 28. Trinity will be playing in just its third NESCAC Quarterfinal game away from home, and has lost both of its previous road quarterfinals contests including an 80-66 loss at Amherst last winter.
Trinity did not lose more than two games in a row this season, but won two straight games just once. Junior tri-captain forward Luke MacDougall (Baldwisnville, N.Y.) leads the Bantams in scoring at 12.7 ppg (15th in NESCAC) and averages 6.4 rebounds per game (11th in NESCAC), while shooting .789 percent from the foul line (60-76, 8th in NESCAC), and .382 from long range (29-76), while Applegate averages a team-high 6.6 ppg (9th in NESCAC) and 0.9 blocks per game (9th in NESCAC). Abdo and Fels rank third and 10th, in assists with 4.4 per game and 2.8 per game, respectively, and second and eighth in steals with 1.7 per game and 1.2 repsectively,in the NESCAC, while Fels averages 10.` ppg with a .446 three-point shooting percentage (25-56, 4th in NESCAC). The pair have helped Trinity rank fifth in the nation in least turnovers with 10.9 per game and fourth nationally in assist-turnover ratio (1.39). Sophomore forward Jon Pike (Exeter, N.H.) has emerged as a solid scorer, averaging 10.0 ppg, while junior guard Brian Ford (Bronx, N.Y.) and freshman guard Mick Distasio (Yarmouth, Maine), Trinity's lone NESCAC Player of the Week award recipient this season, are both execellent long range shooters off the bench.
Middlebury, coached by Jeff Brown (13th Season), is ranked No. 3 in the Northeast region and No. 6 nationally, has won five games in a row entering the post-season and seeks its third consecutive appearance in the NESCAC Semifinals. Sophomore Ryan Sharry (Braintree, Mass.) leads the team in scoring at 13.2 ppg and rebounding with 8.0 per game, while senior co-captain swingman Tim Edwards (Greenwich, Conn..) boasts 100 assists, and junior center Andrew Locke (Seattle, Wash.) adds a NESCAC-best 86 blocked shots.