WATERVILLE, Maine – Unlike the first meeting, there would be no rally from a halftime deficit for Castleton University, as Thomas College pulled away late for a 79-67 victory Friday night in a North Atlantic Conference men's basketball game at Larry Mahaney Gym.
Tondi Mushandu led the Spartans with 19 points and nine rebounds, while Casey Belade came off the bench and contributed 13 points and four rebounds. Jordan Nelson finished with 12 points, two rebounds, six assists, four steals, and one blocked shot, and Pavin Parrish added 10 points for Castleton.
Skyler Boyd opened the game with a three-pointer, but that just started a seesaw battle, as the two teams basically exchanged points for the next 15 minutes. After Julian Santos hit two free throws to give Castleton a 26-22 lead with 5:05 remaining in the first half, Thomas put together a 12-2 scoring run over the next three minutes, capped by a three-pointer by Matt Allen and a traditional three-point play from Justin Butler.
Mushandu hit a three-pointer in the final minute of the first half to close the Spartan deficit to three at 36-33 at halftime. However, Allen hit a three-pointer one minute into the second half, and John Morgan made two free throws to give the Terriers a 46-37 advantage two minutes later.
A three-pointer by Belade and six straight Castleton points from Nelson brought the Spartans within two at 48-46, and then a traditional three-point play from Parrish followed by a layup by Belade put Castleton on top, 54-51. Thomas responded with a 9-0 scoring run, capped by another three-pointer from Allen, as the Terriers retook the lead at 60-54 with 11 minutes left in the second half.
The Spartans closed to within three on three separate occasions, the last time on a Mushandu free throw with 2:07 left in regulation to make the score 70-67. However, the Terriers held the Spartans scoreless down the stretch while scoring the final nine points of the game, with Demetris Webster collecting the last seven points of the night.
Allen hit four three-pointers as he led the Terriers with 14 points, while Carlos Gonzalez notched a double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds. Morgan also scored 13 points to go along with six rebounds and three assists, and Webster contributed 11 points and five rebounds off the bench.
Thomas (12-10, 9-6 NAC) shot 57.1 percent (32-of-56) from the field, including 6-of-18 from behind the three-point line, and 60 percent (9-of-15) from the free throw line. The Terriers dominated the rebounding battle, 40-28, as they hit exactly 16-of-28 field goal attempts in each half.
The Spartans shot 37.7 percent (23-of-61) from the field, including 5-of-19 from behind the three-point line, and 84.2 percent (16-of-19) from the free throw line. For the second time in three games, Castleton committed a season-low 10 turnovers, plus the Spartans scored 19 points off 18 Thomas turnovers.
Castleton (12-11, 9-7 NAC) falls into fifth place in the NAC standings, a half-game behind Thomas, as it heads into Saturday's game at Maine-Farmington starting at 3 p.m. The Beavers are now in sixth place, just a half-game behind the Spartans, after they defeated Green Mountain Friday, 84-64.