Sophomore Matt Pebole netted a game-high 30 points, including 18 in the first half, to lead the Hobart College basketball team to an 83-76 victory over Skidmore in the Liberty League semifinal round tonight at St. Lawrence’s Burkman Gymnasium. The Statesmen improve to 17-9 overall, and earn a spot in the championship game for the first time since the 2000-01 season. The Thoroughbreds move to 16-10 on the year.
Pebole, who shot 11-for-18 from the floor, including 4-of-7 from beyond the arc, added six rebounds and a steal to his 30 points, while first-year Stefan Thompson contributed 19 points, including a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line, a game-high six assists, four boards, and three steals to the Statesmen effort. Junior Adam Salzmann pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds to go with eight points, and classmate Tim Llewellyn added 12 points and three steals.
Terron Victoria paced the Thoroughbreds with 14 points and four assists, while Gerard O’Shea registered 13 points and two steals. Sakhile Sithole and Jeff Altimar added eight points and grabbed five boards apiece.
Hobart held a 45-38 halftime edge, and withstood a furious comeback bid from Skidmore to start the second stanza. The Thoroughbreds came out firing after the break, going on a 14-4 run to grab a 52-49 lead with 15:13 to play. Kyle Clark scored six of his nine points during the run.
Pebole keyed a three with just under 15 minutes to go, tying the game at 52-all, but the Thoroughbreds kept pace and held the lead over the next five minutes. They took their largest lead of the game, 62-57, at the 11:05 mark.
A tip-in by Salzmann with 6:29 left tied the game for the ninth time, 67-all, and two free throws from Thompson gave Hobart a two-point advantage a minute later. Skidmore’s Altimar hit two freebies of his own with 5:21 on the clock, tying the game for the 10th and final time, 69-69.
The Statesmen ended the contest with a 13-7 run, including five points from Pebole, and made 10-of-12 free throws down the stretch, including four from Thompson. A made foul shot from first-year Rezin Davis with 34 seconds on the clock gave Hobart its largest lead of the game, 81-70. Skidmore drained back-to-back threes in a last-ditch effort, but would run out of time.
Hobart jumped out to an 8-2 first-half lead after winning the opening tip, thanks to back-to-back lay-ups from junior Mark Bruce. The Thoroughbreds answered with consecutive threes to even the game at 8-all with 17:15 to play. A lay-up from Llewellyn with just over nine minutes to go gave Hobart a 32-25 advantage. A minute later, he hit a three to put his team up by eight, 35-27. Bruce finished with eight points.
The Statesmen’s lead never dropped below four for the remainder of the period, and they took their largest lead of the half, 43-33, following a three from Pebole at the 4:02 mark.
Tournament host St. Lawrence and Union will square off in the other semifinal contest tonight. Hobart will face the winner tomorrow, Feb. 27, at 3 p.m.