CASTLETON, Vt. – Castleton University seemingly took some time to get over the emotions of the Senior Day ceremony, but overcame its slow start to pull away with a 69-36 victory over Green Mountain College Saturday afternoon in a North Atlantic Conference women's basketball game at Glenbrook Gym.
With the victory, Castleton, now 21-4 overall, clinched the NAC regular season title with a 16-2 league record and will host the semifinals and finals of the NAC Women's Basketball Tournament next Friday and Saturday, Feb. 23-24. Green Mountain's season comes to a close at 5-20 overall and 1-17 within the NAC.
Makayla Farrara again led the Spartans in scoring with 19 points, while Amanda Beatty finished with 11 points and eight rebounds and Ashlie Fay contributed 10 points, nine rebounds, five assists, and seven steals. Morgan Raiche May, receiving her first start of the season, collected eight points and six rebounds, and her sister Taylor Raiche added two points, three rebounds, and a career-high five assists to the winning effort.
Castleton scored the first four points of the game, but Green Mountain went on a 7-2 scoring run, capped by a three-pointer from Mercedes Rideout with three minutes left in the first quarter, to take a 7-6 lead. Three free throws by Katlyn Toomey in the final 1:39 of the period put the Spartans back on top, 9-7, after the first quarter.
A layup by Taylor Hill and a three-pointer from Sharena Armstrong in the first minute of the second quarter allowed the Eagles to retake the lead at 12-9. Down 14-11 with four minutes remaining in the first half, the Spartans put together a 10-0 scoring run, capped by a rebound and putback from May, to establish a 21-14 advantage. However, another three-pointer from Rideout and a layup by Keegan Hill cut the Eagles' deficit to 22-19 at halftime.
Armstrong scored all 10 Green Mountain points in the third quarter, tying the game three times in the first four minutes of the second half. Castleton finally broke away with 16 unanswered points, led by Farrara with seven points in that stretch, before a half-court heave at the end of the quarter from Armstrong found nothing but net, making the score 42-29 in Castleton's favor heading into the final period.
After exchanging points with the Eagles in the first minute of the fourth quarter, Castleton closed out the game with a 24-4 scoring run, thanks to the Spartans shooting 12-of-17 from the field, including 11-of-12 from inside the three-point arc, in the final 10 minutes. That raised Castleton's field goal shooting percentage for the game to 39.4 percent (28-of-71), while the Spartans hit 71.4 percent (10-of-14) of their free throw attempts.
Armstrong led the Eagles with 17 points on 7-of-15 shooting from the field, including a perfect 3-of-3 performance from behind the three-point line, plus she pulled down seven rebounds and earned two steals. Rideout scored 10 points, and Taylor Hill pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds for Green Mountain.
As a team, Green Mountain shot 27.5 percent (14-of-51) from the field, including 6-of-20 from behind the three-point line, and 2-of-3 from the free throw line. The Eagles did commit 28 turnovers, leading to 26 Castleton points.
The Spartans won the rebounding battle, 47-36, including 19 offensive boards that led to 12 second-chance points. Castleton turned the ball over only nine times during the game, a season-best for the Spartans, while it dished out 22 assists.
Castleton receives a bye into the semifinals of the NAC Tournament and will face the winner of the quarterfinal game between fourth seed Maine Maritime and fifth seed Lyndon, to take place Tuesday, Feb. 20, in Castine, Maine. The tournament semifinals will be held Friday, Feb. 23, at Glenbrook Gym along with the championship game Saturday, Feb. 24, at times to be determined.