CASTLETON, Vt. – Castleton University received a balanced offensive effort, as six players reached double figures in scoring to help the Spartans defeat Maine Maritime, 86-76, Saturday afternoon in a North Atlantic Conference men's basketball game at Glenbrook Gym.
Chad Copeland once again led the Spartans in scoring, finishing with 17 points to go along with seven rebounds and three assists. Tondi Mushandu notched a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, plus he dished out five assists, as did Jordan Nelson to accompany 12 points. Ben Mrowka scored 11 points, Edmund Fitzgerald finished with 11 points and seven rebounds, and Pavin Parrish added 10 points, two assists, and three steals.
Maine Maritime (3-14, 0-10 NAC) took an early 12-5 lead thanks to four three-pointers, three of them from Brendan Newcomb, but Castleton roared back with nine unanswered points, capped by a dunk from Fitzgerald. After Newcomb hit another three-pointer to allow the Mariners to retake the lead at 19-18 midway through the first half, the Spartans put together a 15-0 scoring run, featuring consecutive three-pointers by Copeland as well as an alley-oop dunk from Nelson to Fitzgerald.
Castleton closed out the first half with a 14-6 scoring run, capped by a three-pointer from Mrowka and a steal and layup by Nelson in the final minute, to take a 51-30 lead at halftime. In the first half, the Spartans shot 61.8 percent (21-of-34) from the field and committed only two turnovers while scoring 12 points off seven Mariner turnovers.
After a layup by Mrowka one minute into the second half increased the Spartan lead to 57-32, the Mariners started chipping away, starting with a 9-0 scoring run over the next three minutes to cut their deficit to 16. After a layup by Copeland extended the Castleton lead back to 19 at 69-50, Maine Maritime put together a 19-5 scoring run, punctuated by consecutive three-pointers by Newcomb, to bring the Mariners within five at 74-69 with 2:56 left in regulation.
Copeland answered Newcomb's three-pointer with his own long distance shot, and Mushandu converted a traditional three-point play to bring Castleton's lead back into double digits. The Spartans went 7-for-11 from the free throw line in the final two minutes, making enough shots from the charity stripe to hold off the Mariners.
Newcomb shot 8-of-15 from behind the three-point line as he led all players with 26 points, while Tyler Thayer earned 18 points and seven assists and Nicholas DePatsy finished with 13 points, six rebounds, and two steals. As a team, Maine Maritime shot 47.4 percent (27-of-57) from the field, including 11-of-27 from behind the three-point line, and 84.6 percent (11-of-13) from the free throw line.
The Castleton offense cooled off in the second half, but the Spartans still finished the game shooting 55.9 percent (33-of-59) from the field, including 10-of-21 from behind the three-point line, and 55.6 percent (10-of-18) from the free throw line. Castleton won the rebounding battle, 36-28, and enjoyed over a 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio, dishing out 22 assists while committing only 10 turnovers.
Castleton (12-4, 7-3 NAC) plays its final non-conference game of the regular season Tuesday, Jan. 24, at Pine Manor starting at 7 p.m. It begins a stretch of six road games over the next eight contests for the Spartans, including their next conference game at Green Mountain next Saturday, Jan. 28, at 1 p.m.