CASTLETON, Vt. – The Castleton University women's basketball team faces important North Atlantic Conference tests this weekend, hosting conference leader Husson Friday night, Jan. 20, and Maine Maritime Saturday afternoon, Jan. 21, at Glenbrook Gym.
After splitting its conference games last weekend, the Spartans are tied with Colby-Sawyer and New England College for second place in the NAC standings with a 6-2 league mark, two games behind Husson. Castleton defeated Colby-Sawyer in a dramatic comeback last Thursday, 43-39, before losing at New England College last Saturday, 66-56.
The Spartans, a perfect 5-0 at home as part of an 8-6 overall record, are led by Makayla Farrara with 14.5 points per game, Amanda Beatty with 10.9 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, and Lindsay Sabo with 9.7 points, 3.0 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. Morgan Raiche leads the team and is fourth in the conference in rebounding with 7.2 boards per contest. As a team, Castleton is fifth in the country in field goal percentage defense, as opponents are hitting only 30.3 percent of their attempts from the floor, and sixth in Division III in scoring defense, allowing just 46.7 points per game.
Husson leads the NAC with an 8-0 league mark as part of a 12-1 overall record, with the only loss coming in double overtime at Guilford on Dec. 30, 92-87. As a team, the Eagles are scoring 76.8 points per game, 16th in the country in scoring offense, and shooting 40.1 percent from the field, including 35.7 percent from behind the three-point line, and 68.7 percent from the free throw line.
Kenzie Worcester is one of the top players in the conference, averaging 15.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 2.0 steals per game. Darla Morales is scoring 14.2 points per game, and Chandler Guerrette is contributing 13.0 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 3.5 steals per game. Husson head coach Kissy Walker has used the same starting lineup in all 13 games so far this season.
Heading into Friday's game, Husson holds a 15-11 series lead over Castleton, winning all three games over the Spartans last season. On Jan. 22, the Eagles used a 24-6 third quarter to defeat the Spartans, 72-52, led by 21 points from Worcester and 17 points from Morales. Husson also won the rematch in Castleton on Feb. 13, 76-69, despite 20 points and nine rebounds from Beatty. Husson completed the season sweep with a 58-49 win in the final of the NAC Tournament, led by Worcester with 22 points.
Maine Maritime enters the weekend with a 7-7 overall record and a 4-4 record within the conference, good enough for fifth place in the league standings. The Mariners have won three NAC games in a row, defeating Maine-Farmington (72-50), Lyndon State (64-54), and Johnson State (67-56) at home last week. As a team, the Mariners are scoring 62.4 points per game and shooting 40.5 percent from the field, including 26.0 percent from behind the three-point line, and 69.2 percent from the free throw line.
Alayne Felix leads the team and the conference in scoring at 17.4 points per game and in field goal percentage, hitting 50.8 percent of her attempts from the floor. She also leads Maine Maritime in rebounding with 6.5 boards per game, while Chloe Smedley is contributing 8.4 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.
In the all-time series, Castleton holds a 22-6 lead over Maine Maritime, including a 16-game winning streak that dates back to Feb. 19, 2010. Last season, the Spartans pulled away in the fourth quarter to defeat the Mariners in the first meeting, 65-56, led by 14 points and 11 rebounds from Bryanna duPont. Castleton also won the meeting at home, 67-55, on Feb. 12 behind Jade Desroches, who collected 22 points, four rebounds, four steals, and three blocked shots. In the semifinals of the NAC Tournament two weeks later, Castleton prevailed, 69-55, as duPont finished with 16 points, eight rebounds, and three assists and Desroches added 16 points, four assists, and four steals.
After a non-conference home game against Middlebury next Wednesday, Jan. 25, Castleton will play five of its final eight conference games on the road.