CASTLETON, Vt. – Castleton University shot 56.5 percent from the field, including 50 percent from behind the three-point line, as seven players reached double figures in scoring to help the Spartans hold off Colby-Sawyer College, 101-92, Thursday evening in a North Atlantic Conference men's basketball game at Glenbrook Gym.
After Ben Mrowka hit a three-pointer with 9:31 remaining in regulation to increase Castleton's lead to 80-72, Colby-Sawyer scored nine unanswered points, with Nate Cook hitting two free throws to give the Chargers an 81-80 lead. After Dana Bean hit a layup to put Colby-Sawyer back on top, 85-84, with 5:23 left in the second half, Damon Burgess hit a three-pointer on Castleton's next possession to give the Spartans the lead for good.
Colby-Sawyer (5-8, 2-4 NAC) pulled to within two at 91-89 with 3:10 remaining on a free throw by Bean, but Castleton responded, closing the game with a 10-3 scoring run that started with Burgess's fifth three-pointer of the contest. The Spartans went 7-for-10 from the free throw line in the final stretch, and the Castleton defense forced the Chargers to miss 10 shots and commit two turnovers in that same span.
Tondi Mushandu shot 7-for-10 from the field as he finished with 16 points and nine rebounds, while Chad Copeland collected 16 points, eight rebounds, five assists, and two steals. Both Burgess and Mrowka made the first start of their collegiate careers, combining to shoot 9-for-16 from behind the three-point line.
Pavin Parrish contributed 14 points, Jordan Nelson earned 12 points, four rebounds, four assists, and four steals, and Edmund Fitzgerald added 11 points, five rebounds, three assists, three blocked shots, and two steals. As a team, Castleton hit 56.5 percent (35-of-62) of its field goal attempts, including 12-of-24 from behind the three-point line, and 67.9 percent (19-of-28) from the free throw line.
Patrick Coffey led Colby-Sawyer with a double-double, scoring a career-high 27 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. Milani Hicks finished with 14 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and two steals, Bean also scored 14 points, and Jourdain Bell contributed 13 points, eight rebounds, five assists, and three steals.
Castleton jumped out to a 14-6 lead in the first four minutes of the game, but Colby-Sawyer scored eight unanswered points to tie the game at 16-16. After Coffey made two free throws midway through the first half to close the Charger deficit to two, the Spartans scored nine straight points, capped by a putback by Parrish, to extend their lead back to 11 at 35-24.
The Chargers closed to within four points three times late in the first half, but Castleton ended the opening half with a 9-1 scoring run, capped by layups from Fitzgerald and Nelson. Evyn Nolette entered the game early in the second half and hit three three-pointers to keep Colby-Sawyer within striking distance, setting up the exciting finish.
Despite shooting just 38.4 percent (28-of-73) from the field, including 8-of-29 from behind the three-point line, Colby-Sawyer stayed in the game thanks to 28 second chance points off 22 offensive rebounds and hitting 80 percent (28-of-35) of its attempts from the charity stripe.
Castleton (10-3, 5-2 NAC), now in second place in the league standings just a half-game behind NAC leader Husson, heads to third-place New England College for a rematch with the Pilgrims Saturday, Jan. 14, at 1 p.m. The Spartans will be looking for the season sweep over the Pilgrims after earning a 90-77 victory at home Nov. 30.