NEW LONDON, N.H. – Castleton University shot over 50 percent from the field as it battled Colby-Sawyer College through two overtime periods, but the third seeded Chargers used a hot start to the second overtime session to pull ahead and then held on to defeat the sixth seeded Spartans, 99-95, Tuesday night in the quarterfinals of the 2018 North Atlantic Conference Men's Basketball Tournament at Coffin Field House.
Three Castleton players notched double-doubles, led by Tondi Mushandu's career night of 23 points and 14 rebounds. Jordan Nelson scored 15 points and dished out a career-high 11 assists, and Richard Walker also posted career-best numbers with 13 points and 11 rebounds. In addition, Denis LeCours hit seven three-pointers for a career-high 21 points, and Julian Santos connected on five three-pointers as he contributed 17 points.
In the second half, after Dana Bean hit consecutive baskets to give Colby-Sawyer a 41-37 lead, Castleton scored nine unanswered points, capped by a Mushandu layup, to put the Spartans on top, 46-41. The Chargers would eventually tie the game at 53-53 on a traditional three-point play by Bean and a jumper by Jourdain Bell.
Neither team held more than a three-point lead the rest of the second half. Nelson put Castleton on top 70-69 with a layup, but Taylor Grande answered with a three-pointer just as the clock went under two minutes to go in regulation. One minute later, Mushandu hit a jumper to tie the game at 72-72, and then the Spartan defense held off the Chargers on the final offensive possession of regulation, forcing overtime.
Nelson opened the scoring in overtime with a layup, but Colby-Sawyer scored the next six points to take a four-point lead with two minutes left in the extra session. Mushandu cut the Charger lead in half on Castleton's next possession and then, with the clock running down to the final seconds, he grabbed an offensive rebound and converted a putback to square the contest at 78-78 and create another extra period.
Colby-Sawyer (17-8) started the second overtime with an 11-3 scoring run, featuring two three-pointers from Grande, to pull ahead 89-81 with 1:43 left on the clock. LeCours hit a three-pointer with 57 seconds remaining to cut the Spartan deficit to five, and then Santos converted a long distance shot to bring Castleton within four with 27 seconds left, but the Chargers hit 10-of-14 shots from the charity stripe in the final minute to hold off the Spartan rally.
Bell scored the 1,000th point of his collegiate career, and then kept going, finishing with a game-high 34 points. Bean went 6-of-10 from the field and a perfect 9-of-9 from the free throw line as he finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds, and Grande contributed 19 points and five assists to the winning effort.
As a team, Colby-Sawyer shot 38.4 percent (33-of-86) from the field, including 12-of-40 from behind the three-point line, and 84 percent (21-of-25) from the free throw line. The Chargers committed just 11 turnovers while dishing out 19 assists during the 50-minute contest.
The Spartans lost despite shooting 51.4 percent (38-of-74) from the field, including 14-of-27 from behind the three-point line. For the second straight game, Castleton did not take advantage of its opportunities from the free throw line, missing 11 shots out of 16 attempts from the charity stripe.
Castleton sees the 2017-18 season end with a 12-14 overall record. Meanwhile, Colby-Sawyer advances to the NAC Tournament semifinals Friday, Feb. 23, at New England College, as the Chargers will face second seed Husson at 7:30 p.m.