HENNIKER, N.H. – Castleton University once again received contributions from several players, as four Spartans scored in double figures to help defeat New England College, 76-65, Saturday afternoon in North Atlantic Conference men's basketball action at Bridges Gym.
New England College (9-5, 4-3 NAC) took an early 8-4 lead thanks to five points by Ricky Leonard and a traditional three-point play from Jason Jones. Castleton answered with a 12-0 scoring run over a two-minute span, starting with three-pointers by Edmund Fitzgerald and Ben Mrowka.
Down 25-19 midway through the first half, the Pilgrims put together a 9-2 scoring run, with Leonard, Jaskin Melendez, and Jake Vickery scoring three points apiece to give the home team a 28-27 advantage. The Spartans outscored the Pilgrims 11-3 over the final six minutes of the first half, with Mrowka hitting a three-pointer at the end of the half to extend the Castleton lead to 38-31 at halftime.
After trading baskets with NEC for the first two minutes of the second half, Castleton went on a 13-6 scoring run to extend its lead to 56-40 with 12:18 remaining in the second half. The Pilgrims scored eight unanswered points over a three-minute span late in the half to cut the Spartan lead in half, but Castleton went 7-for-10 from the free throw line to bring its lead back into double figures the rest of the way.
Tondi Mushandu shot 9-of-13 from the field as he led the Spartans with 18 points to go along with six rebounds, while Mrowka hit five three-pointers as he scored a career-high 17 points. Pavin Parrish and Fitzgerald contributed 10 points and five rebounds off the bench, with Parrish shooting 10-of-12 from the free throw line and Fitzgerald also blocking four shots.
Chad Copeland finished with eight points and seven rebounds, moving past Richard Reilly (2004-08) into sixth place on Castleton's all-time scoring list, now with 1,473 career points. As a team, the Spartans shot 45.6 percent (26-of-57) from the field, including 6-of-17 from behind the three-point line, and 66.7 percent (18-of-27) from the free throw line.
Leonard led the Pilgrims with 22 points, while Jones notched a double-double with 14 points and 15 rebounds. New England College shot just 33.9 percent (20-of-59) from the field, including 7-of-26 from behind the three-point line, and 66.7 percent (18-of-27) from the free throw line, but the Pilgrims stayed in the game thanks to 19 second chance points off 18 offensive rebounds.
Castleton University (11-3, 6-2 NAC) moves into a tie for first place in the league standings as Husson lost to Lyndon State Saturday afternoon, 71-70. The Spartans will face the Eagles with first place on the line Friday, Jan. 20, at 5:30 p.m. at Glenbrook Gym.