CASTLETON, Vt. – The Castleton University men's basketball team took care of the basketball and played tough defense to defeat Thomas College, 61-45, Friday evening in a North Atlantic Conference game at Glenbrook Gym.
Jordan Nelson shot 7-of-8 from the field as he led the Spartans with 16 points and nine rebounds, while Chad Copeland finished with 14 points, seven rebounds, three assists, two blocked shots, and two steals. Tondi Mushandu contributed 10 points for Castleton, as the team shot 46.7 percent (28-of-60) from the field and scored 13 second-chance points off 11 offensive rebounds.
Thomas (9-11, 7-6 NAC) scored the first five points of the game and took a 15-8 lead with 12:23 left in the first half on Ian King's third three-pointer. Castleton put together an 11-1 scoring run over the next six minutes to pull ahead, 19-16, with Copeland and Mushandu scoring four points each during the run.
A three-pointer by Zach Mackinnon tied the game at 21-21, but the Spartans closed out the half with an 11-3 scoring run, capped by a traditional three-point play from Nelson in the final seconds before halftime.
Tyheem Simon scored the first two points of the second half, but Castleton responded with seven straight points, with two Copeland baskets surrounding a Nelson three-pointer. After the Terriers closed to within 10, the Spartans put the game away with a 14-0 scoring run over the next six-and-a-half minutes, featuring six straight points by Nelson.
The Terriers scored the next eight points to regain some momentum, but Nelson hit a jumper to stop the Thomas run, and the two teams traded baskets the rest of the way. The Spartans committed just nine turnovers in the game, their lowest single-game total of the season and the first time Castleton turned the ball over less than 10 times in one night since Dec. 4, 2015 against Maine-Farmington.
Simon led the Terriers with 12 points, while King finished with 11 points, seven rebounds, and two steals. As a team, Thomas shot 31 percent (18-of-58) from the field, including 4-of-19 from behind the three-point line.
Castleton (13-6, 8-5 NAC) hosts Maine-Farmington Saturday, Feb. 4, at 1 p.m. at Glenbrook Gym. The Beavers defeated Green Mountain Friday night, 59-54, to create the situation where the winner of the game at Castleton will earn solo second place in the NAC standings with two weeks remaining in the regular season.