CASTLETON, Vt. – In a tightly-contested game, Castleton University took better care of the ball in the second half and rode a career-high scoring performance from Tondi Mushandu to defeat Maine-Farmington, 78-71, Saturday afternoon in a North Atlantic Conference men's basketball game at Glenbrook Gym.
Mushandu shot 8-of-10 from the field as he scored 22 points, 19 of them in the second half, plus he pulled down nine rebounds and dished out three assists. Chad Copeland contributed 20 points, eight rebounds, and four assists, while Ben Mrowka hit four three-pointers as he finished with 14 points.
With Castleton down 40-35 at halftime, Mushandu scored eight of the team's first 10 points of the second half to bring the Spartans within one at 46-45. Mrowka hit a three-pointer to put Castleton ahead, 48-46, and Mushandu followed with a layup to increase the Spartan lead to four six minutes into the second half.
Maine-Farmington (9-12, 8-6 NAC) battled back thanks to a layup by Tyus Ripley and a three-pointer from Riley Robinson. The game went back-and-forth for the next four minutes, with Robinson hitting a fast-break layup to put the Beavers back on top, 60-59, with 8:26 remaining in the second half.
Castleton took the lead for good with an 8-0 scoring run, led by Mushandu with five points, but Maine-Farmington fought back, closing its deficit to one at 69-68 on a three-pointer by Eric Berry with 4:19 left on the clock. The Spartans would close out the game with a 9-3 scoring run to clinch the victory.
Jordan Nelson played a solid game, collecting seven points, six rebounds, six assists, and two steals, while Edmund Fitzgerald added seven points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals, and two blocked shots. As a team, Castleton shot 57.7 percent (30-of-52) from the field, including 5-of-11 from behind the three-point line, and 59.1 percent (13-of-22) from the free throw line.
Four players scored in double figures for the Beavers, led by Robinson with 16 points, four rebounds, and four assists. Issac Witham hit five three-pointers for 15 points, while Ripley hit 7-of-8 shots from the field for 14 points, and Amir Moss contributed 14 points, six rebounds, and four assists.
The Beavers scored the first six points of the game, but Castleton answered with an 8-2 scoring run to tie the game five minutes into the contest. Ryan Camire and Witham hit consecutive three-pointers to give Maine-Farmington a 14-8 advantage, and the visitors would stay ahead of the Spartans until layups by Nelson and Taurian Archie gave Castleton a 24-23 advantage with 4:36 remaining in the first half.
After two Copeland free throws tied the game at 30-30, Robinson scored four straight points, and Witham followed with two three-pointers in the final minute to give the Beavers the halftime lead. Maine-Farmington scored nine points off eight Castleton turnovers in the first half, but managed only five points off three Spartan turnovers in the second half.
With the victory, Castleton completed the season sweep of Maine-Farmington and took over second place by itself in the NAC standings, one game ahead of the Beavers and Thomas College.
Castleton (14-6, 9-5 NAC) travels to Maine for conference games against Maine Maritime Friday, Feb. 10, at 5:30 p.m. and NAC leader Husson Saturday, Feb. 11, at 1 p.m.