CASTLETON, Vt. – The Castleton University men's basketball team hopes to get back on the winning track this weekend, first traveling to Johnson State to face the Badgers Thursday, Dec. 8, at 5:30 p.m. before hosting the Lyndon State Hornets at Glenbrook Gym Saturday, Dec. 10, at 1 p.m.
Castleton is 5-2 overall and 2-1 within the North Atlantic Conference, currently third in the league standings, after a tough 70-69 loss at Thomas College this past Saturday. The Spartans lead the league and are 11th in the country in field goal percentage, hitting 50.8 percent of their field goal attempts as they average 72.4 points per game.
Four Castleton players are averaging double figures in scoring, led by Chad Copeland with 17.6 points per game. Jordan Nelson is averaging 12.3 points per game, plus he leads the Spartans with 2.6 assists and 2.3 steals per contest. Scoring 12.0 points per game, Tondi Mushandu leads the NAC in field goal percentage at 66.1 percent, while Edmund Fitzgerald is third in the league in field goal percentage at 60.9 percent as he is averaging 10.0 points and a team-high 7.4 rebounds per game.
Johnson State improved its record to 3-4 overall after a 94-65 victory over Vermont Tech at home Tuesday night. The Badgers lost their conference opener at New England College Saturday, 84-80. As a team, Johnson State is averaging 80.3 points per game while shooting 43.0 percent from the field, including 36.0 percent from behind the three-point line, and 71.4 percent from the free throw line.
Marqwon Wynn leads Johnson State and is fourth in the conference in scoring at 20.7 points per game, followed by Kawaun Chavis at 14.0 points per game, thanks in part to shooting 88.9 percent from the free throw line. Jeyquan Johnson leads the league in three-point field goal percentage, hitting 72.7 percent (8-of-11) of his shots from behind the arc. Demetrius Slade has pulled down a team-high 7.4 rebounds per game.
Castleton put together a 13-game winning streak over Johnson State, including the first game of last year's series, with the Spartans winning at Glenbrook Gym, 80-56, led by 18 points from Rob Coloutti on six three-pointers. However, the Badgers snapped that streak on their home floor with a 65-53 win in the rematch, despite 19 points from Fitzgerald and 17 points from Mushandu.
Lyndon State is 1-4 overall, including a loss to Division I school Vermont, and 0-1 within the conference after losing at Colby-Sawyer this past Saturday, 81-79. The Hornets will host Green Mountain Thursday before coming to Castleton Saturday. As a team, Lyndon State is scoring 64.2 points per game while shooting 35.2 percent from the field, including 29.5 percent from behind the three-point line, and 63.3 percent from the free throw line.
Charles Correa leads the Hornets in scoring with 14.5 points per game, thanks in part to hitting three three-pointers per contest. Xavier Colbert has played in the past two games and is contributing 12.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per contest. Eric Vargas is the only Lyndon State player to start all five games so far this season, averaging 7.8 points and a team-high 4.8 assists per game.
Last year, Lyndon State swept the season series from Castleton for the first time since the 2008-09 campaign, first winning on its home floor, 77-57, behind 24 points from Gabriel Torres on eight made three-pointers. The rematch at Glenbrook Gym went to double overtime, with Mushandu hitting a layup with eight seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 69-69, and then Lyndon State's Ty Roane hitting a three-pointer with 24 seconds to go in the first overtime to further extend the game. Roane opened the scoring halfway through the second overtime with a three-pointer, and the Hornets held on for the 86-83 victory.
After the Lyndon State contest, Castleton does not play another game for almost three full weeks, taking time for fall semester finals and to celebrate the holidays. The Spartans return to action in The Bronx, N.Y., with the SUNY Coaches vs. Cancer Classic hosted by Lehman College Dec. 29-30.