CASTLETON, Vt. – Castleton University ramped up the defensive pressure in the second half and took advantage of its opportunities in the paint, coming from behind to defeat Johnson State College, 64-52, Sunday afternoon in a North Atlantic Conference men's basketball game at Glenbrook Gym.
Tondi Mushandu notched his fourth double-double of the season, tying his career high in scoring with 22 points on 10-of-13 shooting from the field along with 11 rebounds. Julian Santos went 7-of-8 from the free throw line as he finished with nine points, three assists, and three steals, Tyler Arsenault scored eight points, and Jordan Nelson also contributed eight points along with four rebounds and six assists.
Johnson (5-8, 2-5 NAC) scored the first basket of the second half on a layup by Marqwon Wynn to extend its lead to 33-25, its largest of the game. Castleton went on a 14-4 scoring run, with a layup by Mushandu tying the game at 37-37 and two free throws from Taurian Archie putting the Spartans in the lead at 39-37 halfway through the second half.
Wynn made two layups to keep the Badgers close, but the Spartans pulled away thanks to a 16-2 scoring run over a five-minute span, with Mushandu scoring the last six points of the run. Wynn hit a three-pointer, but Castleton answered with six straight points, capped by a steal and layup from Santos, to take its biggest lead of the game at 61-44 with 1:29 left in regulation.
Wynn scored 16 points, 14 of them in the second half, to lead the Badgers, while Jeyquan Johnson finished with 12 points, five rebounds, and five assists, scoring 10 of those points in the first half to help Johnson take a 31-25 lead at halftime. As a team, Johnson shot 32.3 percent (21-of-65) from the field, including 8-of-33 from behind the three-point line, and just 2-of-4 from the free throw line.
The Spartans shot exactly 12-of-22 from the field in each half to finish the game at 54.5 percent (24-of-44) from the field, a season high, as well as 69.6 percent (16-of-23) from the free throw line. Castleton did not make a three-pointer, the first time that has happened in the 233-game tenure of Paul Culpo as Spartan head coach.
Despite committing 25 turnovers, Castleton allowed just 19 points off those mistakes while it scored 18 points off 18 Johnson turnovers. In addition, the Spartans won the rebounding battle, 40-28, and dominated the post, scoring 44 points in the paint while the Badgers collected just 14 points in the paint.
Castleton (7-7, 4-3 NAC) travels to New England College Tuesday, Jan. 16, for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff. The Spartans then host Maine-Farmington next Friday, Jan. 19, and Thomas next Saturday, Jan. 20.