CASTLETON, Vt. – The Castleton University women's basketball team closes the 2017-18 regular season with home games against Norwich University Thursday, Feb. 15, at 7 p.m. and Green Mountain College Saturday, Feb. 17, at 1 p.m.
The Spartans improved to 19-4 overall and 15-2 within the North Atlantic Conference by sweeping last weekend's Maine road trip with victories over Thomas (70-44) and Maine-Farmington (63-48). With one victory, Castleton will reach the 20-win mark for the sixth time in the past seven seasons, and a win over Green Mountain Saturday will give the Spartans their first regular season NAC title since the 2014-15 campaign.
As a team, Castleton is 12th in Division III in scoring defense, allowing just 49.9 points per game, and 18th in the country in free throw percentage, hitting 74.8 percent of its free throw attempts. Senior Makayla Farrara has made 27 straight free throw attempts and is now 10th in Division III in free throw percentage at 89.0 percent, which would be the third-highest single season free throw percentage in program history.
Norwich improved to 10-13 overall and 7-8 within the Great Northeast Conference with a 70-68 victory over Anna Maria Tuesday night. The Cadets are currently seventh in the GNAC standings heading into their regular season finale at Saint Joseph's (Maine) Saturday afternoon. As a team, Norwich is both scoring and allowing 54.8 points per game while shooting 32.4 percent from the field, including 25.0 percent from behind the three-point line, and 67.3 percent from the free throw line.
Senior guard Shyann Josler leads the team with 15.0 points, 4.1 assists, and 1.9 steals per game, while Arianna Harrison has grabbed a team-high 9.3 rebounds per game to go along with 10.7 points per contest. Besides Josler, Emily Oliver has started every game so far this season for the Cadets, contributing 6.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.
This will be the 38th meeting all-time between Castleton and Norwich, with the Cadets holding a 22-15 series advantage. Last season at Andrews Hall in Northfield, Vt., Norwich took the lead in the second quarter and extended it in the third quarter before holding off a Castleton fourth quarter rally for a 52-47 victory. Ashlie Fay led the Spartans with nine points, seven rebounds, and two steals, while Kayla Mercer hit five three-pointers as she finished with 20 points and six rebounds for the Cadets.
Green Mountain fell to 5-19 overall with a 61-45 loss to Vermont Tech Monday night, the Eagles' fifth consecutive loss. Green Mountain is in 10th place in the NAC at 1-16, with its only league victory coming on Jan. 6 at Johnson State, 77-64.
As a team, the Eagles are scoring 49.1 points and allowing 69.8 points per game as they are shooting 29.8 percent from the field, including 23.8 percent from behind the three-point line, and 64.4 percent from the free throw line. Mercedes Rideout is averaging 13.3 points per game, as is Sharena Armstrong to go along with 7.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.0 steals, and 1.3 blocked shots per game.
Two weeks ago in Poultney, Vt., Castleton jumped out to a 23-4 lead after the first quarter on its way to a 67-25 victory over Green Mountain. Brooke Raiche led the Spartans with 11 points, while Farrara collected nine points, seven rebounds, three assists, three steals, and one blocked shot. Rideout led the Eagles with nine points and four steals, and Armstrong contributed eight points, nine rebounds, two assists, three steals, and two blocked shots.
Before Saturday's game, Amanda Beatty, Farrara, Fay, Morgan Raiche May, and Taylor Raiche will be recognized in the Senior Day ceremony. Heading into Thursday's game, the five seniors have helped the Spartans post an 80-24 (.769) overall record over the past four seasons, including a 62-9 (.873) mark within the NAC.
Castleton will participate in the North Atlantic Conference Women's Basketball Tournament next week, with the official seedings and schedule of games to be announced after all league contests are completed Saturday.