CASTLETON, Vt. – With the 2016-17 regular season winding down, the Castleton University men's basketball team looks to remain in position for a favorable draw in the upcoming North Atlantic Conference Tournament as it travels across New England to face Maine Maritime Friday, Feb. 10, at 5:30 p.m. and Husson Saturday, Feb. 11, at 1 p.m.
The Spartans are currently in second place in the NAC standings with a 9-5 league record as part of a 14-6 overall record, with the top two teams in the standings at the end of the regular season receiving byes into the tournament semifinals. Castleton is one game ahead of Thomas and Maine-Farmington after beating both teams last weekend at Glenbrook Gym.
As a team, Castleton is 17th in the country in field goal percentage at 49.2 percent and 29th in the nation in field goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to hit only 40.0 percent of their attempts from the floor. Tondi Mushandu is 19th in Division III in field goal percentage at 62.6 percent, tops in the conference ahead of teammate Edmund Fitzgerald at 57.1 percent. Ben Mrowka is third in the NAC in three-point field goal percentage at 42.9 percent, and Chad Copeland is fifth in the league in rebounding with 7.6 boards per game.
Maine Maritime is 4-17 overall and 1-13 within the NAC after losing to Johnson State (76-61) and Lyndon State (78-54) last weekend. As a team, the Mariners are scoring 67.6 points per game and shooting 41.7 percent from the field, including 36.9 percent from behind the three-point line, and 73.7 percent from the free throw line.
After missing the first three games of the season, Tyler Thayer has emerged as the Mariners' leading player at 16.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. Brendan Newcomb is averaging 12.7 points per game, while Nicholas DePatsy and Nick Judge are scoring 10.0 points per game each.
In the first game between the two teams in Castleton on Jan. 21, the Spartans jumped out to a 51-30 halftime lead and held on to defeat the Mariners, 86-76. Six Castleton players reached double figures in scoring, led by Copeland with 17 points and Mushandu with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Newcomb shot 8-of-15 from behind the three-point line to lead all players with 26 points.
Husson is 15-6 overall and 12-2 in the conference, leading the league by three games with less than two weeks remaining in the regular season. The Eagles have won three straight games over a five-day span, sweeping the conference weekend at Lyndon State (80-74) and at Johnson State (76-69) before an 89-69 win at Colby Tuesday. As a team, Husson is scoring 78.2 points per game and shooting 41.6 percent from the field, including 34.7 percent from behind the three-point line, and 74.6 percent from the free throw line.
Raheem Anderson is sixth in the country in scoring, averaging 25.3 points per game, and he is 28th in the nation in free throw percentage at 88.4 percent. Anderson has also collected 4.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. Mitch Worcester is contributing 12.7 points per game, and Justin Martin leads the team and is second in the league in rebounding with 10.2 boards per game to go along with 8.5 points per game.
On Jan. 20 in Castleton, Husson rallied from a seven-point halftime deficit, forcing overtime and eventually prevailing, 77-71, behind 35 points from Anderson, who shot 10-of-21 from the field and 15-of-16 from behind the three-point line. Worcester scored 15 points, and Martin contributed nine points and 11 rebounds. Copeland finished with 31 points, five rebounds, and three steals, and Mushandu earned 18 points, six rebounds, and two blocked shots.
After this weekend, Castleton plays its third straight road game with a trip to Lyndon State Thursday, Feb. 16, at 5:30 p.m. before concluding the regular season at home against Johnson State Saturday, Feb. 18, at 1 p.m.