NEW LONDON, N.H. – Castleton University battled back from a double-digit deficit to force overtime, but Colby-Sawyer College prevailed, 77-74, Tuesday night in a North Atlantic Conference men's collegiate basketball game at Coffin Field House.
Down 37-25 four minutes into the second half, Castleton started its comeback with six unanswered points to cut the Colby-Sawyer lead in half. Dana Bean made two free throws midway through the second half to extend the Charger lead back to seven, but the Spartans responded with an 8-2 scoring run to tie the game at 52-52 with less than seven minutes left in regulation.
Taylor Grande hit a three-pointer to give Colby-Sawyer a three-point advantage, but, after exchanging baskets for the next two minutes, Castleton would tie the score on a three-pointer by Edmund Fitzgerald. After Bean made two more free throws with 2:21 to go in the second half, Jordan Nelson found an open lane and drove in for a layup to create another tie at 63-63. Neither team could score in the final two minutes of regulation, forcing the extra period.
Grande started the overtime session with a three-pointer, but Nelson would hit a three-pointer of his own to tie the game at 68-68. After two free throws by Grande, Taurian Archie made a layup with less than two minutes to go in overtime to pull the Spartans even. Grande would convert on a traditional three-point play, but consecutive baskets by Tondi Mushandu and Chad Copeland gave Castleton a 74-73 advantage with 28 seconds left on the clock.
With 17 seconds remaining, Bean hit a short jumper to put Colby-Sawyer back on top, but Castleton still had time to answer his basket. However, the Spartans committed a turnover, and Bean hit both of his free throw attempts with one second remaining to ice the game for the Chargers.
Copeland notched a double-double to lead the Spartans, finishing with 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Mushandu contributed 14 points, eight rebounds, three assists, and two steals. Fitzgerald hit 6-of-7 shots from the field as he collected 14 points, five blocked shots, and three steals, and Nelson added 11 points, five assists, and four steals.
The Spartans were able to make their comeback thanks to shooting 70.8 percent (17-of-24) from the field and 6-of-7 from the free throw line in the second half. For the game, Castleton shot 54.5 percent (30-of-55) from the field, including 6-of-13 from behind the three-point line, and 61.5 percent (8-of-13) from the free throw line.
After Ben Mrowka hit a three-pointer to open the scoring, Colby-Sawyer scored 11 straight points over a five-minute span to take an eight-point lead. Fitzgerald stopped the run with a tip-in, but the Chargers extended their lead to 12 at 17-5 on back-to-back three-pointers by Grande and Nate Cook.
Colby-Sawyer (9-11, 6-7 NAC) went on another run later in the first half, scoring eight unanswered points, including consecutive three-pointers by Patrick Coffey and Austin Whaley. Castleton closed out the half on an 11-3 scoring run, punctuated by a three-pointer by Julian Santos, to go into the locker room down 29-22 at halftime.
The Charger starting five all played at least 40 minutes and scored 68 of the team's 77 points, led by Grande and Bean with 19 points apiece. Coffey scored 12 points, and Jourdain Bell, the team's leading scorer entering the game, contributed in several ways with nine points, nine rebounds, six assists, and four steals.
As a team, Colby-Sawyer shot 40.6 percent (26-of-64) from the field, including 11-of-25 from behind the three-point line, and 77.8 percent (14-of-18) from the free throw line. The Chargers won the rebounding battle, 34-30, including 15 offensive rebounds that led to 16 second chance points, and Colby-Sawyer also scored 27 points off 24 Castleton turnovers.
Castleton (12-6, 7-5 NAC) is now in a four-way tie for second place with home games against two of the other teams in that group, Thomas College (Friday, Feb. 3) and Maine-Farmington (Saturday, Feb. 4), coming up this weekend.