CASTLETON, Vt. – The Castleton University men's basketball team looks to continue its best start in over 20 years, as the Spartans resume the 2016-17 season by participating in the CUNY Coaches vs. Cancer Classic Thursday and Friday, Dec. 29-30, at the APEX Main Gym in Bronx, N.Y.
Castleton will face Stevens Tech Thursday, Dec. 29, at 5 p.m. before taking on host school Lehman College Friday, Dec. 30, at 6 p.m. Live stats and live video for both games will be available with links originating from the Castleton athletics website (www.castletonsports.com).
The Spartans have started the season with a 7-2 record, the first time the team has produced seven wins in its first nine games since the 1995-96 season, when Castleton finished 21-6. As a team, the Spartans are scoring 71.6 points per game, thanks in part to the ninth-best field goal percentage in the country at 51.1 percent. The team is shooting 30.9 percent from behind the three-point line and 68.9 percent from the free throw line.
Tondi Mushandu leads the North Atlantic Conference and is 13th in Division III in field goal percentage, hitting 67.2 percent of his field goal attempts as he is averaging 11.2 points per game. Chad Copeland is just outside the top five in the conference in both scoring and rebounding, averaging 18.3 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. Edmund Fitzgerald is third in the league in field goal percentage at 60.3 percent and fifth in the NAC in rebounding with 7.9 boards per game.
Stevens Tech, located in Hoboken, N.J., and a member of the Empire 8 Conference, brings a 5-1 record, including a four-game winning streak, into the Dec. 29 game. The Castleton game will be the first one for the Ducks since a 78-57 win over Baruch College on Dec. 6, as their game against NYU on Dec. 10 was postponed. As a team, Stevens is scoring 84.2 points per game and shooting 46.6 percent from the field, including 44.8 percent from behind the three-point line, which is fourth best in the country, and 67.5 percent from the free throw line.
Patrick Barron leads the team in scoring with 16.3 points per game and is third in Division III in made three-pointers per game with 4.33. Evan Klimchak is contributing 15.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game, while Ryan Coffey leads the way with 8.2 rebounds per game to go along with 11.3 points per contest. This will be the first meeting all-time between Castleton and Stevens.
Lehman enters the week with a 4-5 overall record after losing to Yeshiva Dec. 14, 71-61, but it does boast a win over NAC member Johnson State Nov. 18, 101-72. As a team, the Lightning are scoring 78.6 points per game and shooting 45.9 percent from the field, including 37.6 percent from behind the three-point line, and 67.6 percent from the free throw line.
Andrew Utate is one of four Lehman players averaging in double figures in scoring with 16.0 points per game, thanks in part to 80 percent free throw shooting. Damian Bellamy is shooting 55.9 percent from the field as he is averaging 12.9 points and a team-high 6.6 rebounds per game, while John Brens is contributing 10.8 points, 6.6 assists, and 2.2 steals per game, plus he is shooting 82.2 percent from the free throw line.
Castleton and Lehman are meeting for the first time since Nov. 19, 1989, when Castleton defeated Lehman 89-57 in a tournament hosted by Hartwick. The teams also met in Castleton on Feb. 3, 1984, a 67-58 victory for the Spartans as they finished with a 26-2 overall record with current Detroit Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy at the helm of the Castleton program.
After the two games in New York, Castleton will have a week off before resuming NAC play with games against Green Mountain Saturday, Jan. 7, and Colby-Sawyer Thursday, Jan. 12, both at Glenbrook Gym.