BRONX, N.Y. – Castleton University held one of the top three-point field goal shooting teams in the country to under 20 percent shooting from behind the arc, as the Spartans held on to defeat the Stevens Institute of Technology, 62-57, Thursday evening in the first game of the CUNY Coaches vs. Cancer Holiday Classic, hosted by Lehman College at APEX Gym.
Castleton took the early lead thanks to a 14-3 scoring run, with Chad Copeland scoring six of those points. Stevens battled back to pull ahead 21-20, putting together a 15-4 scoring run over an eight-minute span, led by Thomas Cook with five points and capped by a three-pointer from Patrick Barron.
Over the final three-and-a-half minutes of the first half, Castleton went on a 10-2 scoring run, led by the Spartan defense forcing three Stevens turnovers during that span leading directly to six of those points. The Spartans held a 37-27 lead at halftime thanks in part to shooting 60 percent (18-of-30) from the field in the first half.
Early in the second half, a tip-in by Tondi Mushandu extended the Spartan lead to 12, but Stevens roared back, going on a 10-2 scoring run over a four-minute span to pull to within four at 43-39. Copeland and Pavin Parrish hit consecutive baskets to double the Castleton lead, but the Ducks scored seven unanswered points to pull to within one at 47-46 with nine minutes left in regulation.
Stevens (5-2) tied the game at 49-49 two minutes later with a three-pointer by Evan Klimchak, but Julian Santos answered with his own three-pointer to give Castleton the lead right back. The two teams traded baskets over the next six minutes, with Cook hitting a layup with 13 seconds remaining to close the Spartan lead to one.
After Copeland hit two free throws, he committed a foul to prevent Stevens from attempting a potential game-tying three-pointer. Edmund Fitzgerald rebounded the missed free throw and gave the ball to Santos, who was fouled and made both free throws to solidify the Castleton victory.
Mushandu notched his second double-double of the season, scoring a career-high 21 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the field and pulling down 10 rebounds. Copeland nearly earned his own double-double, finishing with 18 points, nine rebounds, three assists, and two blocked shots, and Santos contributed 11 points, four rebounds, and two steals.
Klimchak led Stevens with 14 points, Barron earned 12 points, and Cook added nine points, five rebounds, and two blocked shots. The Ducks came into the game with the fourth-best three-point field goal percentage in the country at 44.8 percent, but they hit only 16.7 percent (5-of-30) of their attempts from long distance. Stevens stayed in the game thanks to 18 second chance points off 16 offensive rebounds.
The Spartans finished the game at 49.1 percent (27-of-55) field goal shooting and 87.5 percent (7-of-8) free throw shooting. Castleton won the overall rebounding battle, 39-35, and scored 18 points resulting from 16 Stevens turnovers.
Castleton (8-2) concludes play in the CUNY Coaches vs. Cancer Classic by facing host school Lehman College Friday, Dec. 30, at 6 p.m.