CASTLETON, Vt. – The Castleton University men's basketball team fell in dramatic fashion on Monday night as Northern Vermont University-Johnson took down the Spartans in the waning seconds, 72-71, at Glenbrook Gym.
With Castleton leading by two points with less than 15 seconds to play, the Badgers inbounded the ball to Vernon Slater, who held for the final shot. He pulled up from the right wing with just seconds left on the clock, burying a three that gave NVU-Johnson a 72-71 edge with 2.1 seconds left on the clock. Castleton managed a last-second shot attempt, but it was blocked away as the final horn sounded on the contest.
Castleton outshot the Badgers in the contest, going 32-of-65 (49.2 percent) from the field, while Johnson shot 24-of-55 (43.6 percent). The Badgers made up the difference from deep, shooting a season-best 50.0 percent from downtown, making 14-of-28 three-point attempts. Castleton was 6-of-16 from three, and controlled the glass by a 39-27 margin. The Spartans dominated the paint, outscoring NVU-Johnson 48-12 inside while posting 14 second-chance points to the Badgers' two.
Eric Shaw had a career-high 20 points, 18 of which came on 7-of-9 shooting in the first half. Denis LeCours notched his first career double-double with 15 points and 11 boards, while Casey Belade dropped 18 points while hauling in five rebounds and dishing out four assists. Igor Almeida added 10 rebounds for Castleton.
Winston Jones led the Badgers with 19 points on the night, while Robert Dubose added 16 points and Slater and Haji Haji had 11 points apiece. Jones had a team-high five three pointers, while Slater dished out five assists to go along with his game-winning shot. Dubose led the way on the glass for NVU-Johnson with seven rebounds.
The contest was tight from the opening tip, as neither side led by more than seven points at any point in the contest. The game featured eight ties and 12 lead changes as the two sides dueled from start to finish.
Castleton led by just one point at halftime before the Badgers bounced back and opened up their largest lead of the game just five minutes into the second half when Jones knocked down a three to cap a 6-0 run for his side. The Spartans answered by tying the game up just minutes later with a 7-0 run of their own, and opened up a six-point lead late after relentless pressure led to a 7-2 run for Castleton, capped by a lay in for LeCours. The two sides traded blows into the final minutes with Castleton still leading by five. Slater drilled a three to cut the lead to two points with 1:23 to play. Both sides came up empty on ensuing possessions, before Castleton pulled in an offensive rebound with 23 seconds on the clock. After the Spartans missed the front end of a 1-and-1 opportunity, the Badgers came down with the ball and called timeout, setting up Slater for the late heroics that lifted NVU-Johnson to victory, 72-71.
Castleton returns to action on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. with a road contest at Western Connecticut State University.