CASTLETON, Vt. – Off to its best start in 30 years, the Castleton University men's basketball team returns to Glenbrook Gym for an important North Atlantic Conference contest against Green Mountain College Saturday, Jan. 7, starting at 1 p.m.
The Spartans extended their winning streak to four games and improved to 9-2 with victories over Stevens (62-57) and Lehman (61-56) last week at the CUNY Coaches vs. Cancer Holiday Classic. Chad Copeland earned NAC Player of the Week honors after averaging 16.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.5 blocked shots per game, while Julian Santos was named to the All-Tournament Team as he contributed 8.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.5 steals per game.
Castleton's 9-2 record is the best for the men's basketball team after 11 games since the 1986-87 season, a year in which the Spartans finished with a 24-5 overall record. The Spartans enter the weekend tied with New England College for first place in the league standings at 4-1, a half-game ahead of Husson and Thomas.
As a team, Castleton is 15th in the country in field goal percentage, hitting 50.1 percent of its attempts from the field. Individually, Tondi Mushandu is 11th in Division III in field goal percentage at 65.9 percent, including a 10-for-15 performance last Thursday against Stevens for a career-high 21 points. The Spartan defense has also been strong so far this season, as Castleton is 18th in the country in scoring defense, allowing just 64.1 points per game, and 26th in field goal percentage defense, as opponents are hitting only 39.1 percent of their field goal attempts.
Green Mountain improved to 5-4 overall with a 64-59 victory over Plymouth State Thursday night. The Eagles are tied for sixth in the NAC with a 2-3 conference mark. As a team, Green Mountain is scoring 72.3 points per game and shooting 41.5 percent from the field, including 34.4 percent from behind the three-point line, and 58.7 percent from the free throw line.
Thomas Brown leads Green Mountain and is fourth in the conference in scoring at 21.2 points per game, plus he is seventh in the league in three-point field goal percentage at 45.1 percent. Patrick Rittmon is scoring 16.8 points per game, Pierce Weatherspoon is contributing 11.0 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, and Kenneth Parker has added 7.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.8 steals, and 1.9 blocked shots per game.
Castleton holds a 34-29 series advantage over Green Mountain and held a 12-game winning streak over the Eagles from 2009-10 through 2014-15. Last season, the Eagles swept the season series, first defeating the Spartans 74-57 in Poultney behind 19 points by Brown. In the rematch three weeks later in Castleton, Green Mountain again prevailed, 86-68, as both Cameron Anderson and Mychal Parker notched double-doubles.