FARMINGTON, Maine – Castleton University used 11 second-half three-pointers to close a double-digit halftime deficit into a one-possession game in the final minutes of regulation, but Maine-Farmington hit enough free throws down the stretch to hold off the Spartans, 94-89, Saturday afternoon in a North Atlantic Conference men's basketball game at Dearborn Gym.
Julian Santos hit 6-of-9 shots from behind the three-point line as he led the Spartans with a career-high 24 points, 19 of them coming in the second half. Tondi Mushandu finished with 16 points and eight rebounds, Pavin Parrish collected 14 points and four steals, and Casey Belade hit four three-pointers as he contributed 14 points off the bench.
Maine-Farmington (11-12, 9-7 NAC) opened a 19-10 advantage seven minutes into the game, led by Amir Moss with eight points, including two three-pointers. After a traditional three-point play by Bill Ruby, Castleton scored eight unanswered points, half of those scored by Tyler Arsenault, to close to within one at 24-23 with nine minutes remaining in the first half.
Riley Robinson hit two straight three-pointers to extend the Beaver lead back to seven at 30-23, but another layup by Arsenault brought the Spartans within four at 32-28. UMF would close out the first half with a 12-4 scoring run, capped by a layup from Milani Hicks at the buzzer, to take a 44-32 lead into the locker room at halftime.
In a high-scoring second half, a layup by Mushandu closed the Spartan deficit to five at 49-44 three minutes into the half, but UMF responded with nine unanswered points over the next two minutes to extend its lead back to 14. A traditional three-point play by Eric Berry gave the Beavers a 71-60 advantage halfway through the second half.
Castleton went on a 12-4 scoring run over the next two minutes, punctuated by three-pointers from Taurian Archie and Santos, to close its deficit to three at 75-72. The Beavers would answer with a 9-3 scoring run over the next four minutes, led by four points from Moss, to increase their lead back to nine at 84-75 with 3:50 remaining in regulation.
A three-pointer from Parrish and a layup by Arsenault brought the Spartans within four, but the Beavers came right back with a layup by Hicks and a three-pointer by Moss. Three-pointers from Belade and Santos once again made it a one-possession contest at 89-86 with 1:22 left on the clock, but Ruby scored four points down the stretch and Castleton could not hit any more field goals before time ran out.
Moss led the Beavers with 22 points, just ahead of Hicks with 21 points. Ruby finished with 19 points, eight rebounds, five assists, and two steals, and Robinson added 17 points and five rebounds to the winning effort.
As a team, UMF shot 65.2 percent (30-of-46) from the field, including 8-of-16 from behind the three-point line, and 78.8 percent (26-of-33) from the free throw line. The Beavers dished out 22 assists while committing only 15 turnovers, plus they scored 21 points off 18 Castleton turnovers.
The Spartans lost the game despite their best shooting performance of the season, hitting 56.5 percent (35-of-62) of their field goal attempts, including 14-of-26 shots from behind the three-point line. Castleton scored 10 second-chance points off 12 offensive rebounds and 28 points off UMF turnovers.
Castleton University (12-12, 9-8 NAC) closes out the regular season next Saturday, Feb. 17, with the Senior Day game against Green Mountain beginning at 3 p.m. at Glenbrook Gym.