Castleton Downs Colby-Sawyer for NAC Title
CASTLETON, Vt. – Top-seeded Castleton State College raced out to 40-26 lead at halftime and held on for a 65-51 win over the second seed, Colby-Sawyer in the North Atlantic Conference (NAC) Women's basketball final Saturday afternoon at Glenbrook Gymnasium.
Alyssa Leonard (Amherst, Mass.) led the Spartans with 17 points and 11 rebounds, while tournament Most Valuable Player Vanessa Powers (Marshfield, Vt.) picked up her second double-double in as many days with 13 points and 17 boards. Christine Jaques (Burlington, Vt.) added 12 points and five assists, while Meghan O'Sullivan added 12 points and five boards off the bench.
Cailin Bullett (Millbury, Mass.) led the Chargers with a game high 23 points, 11 rebounds and five assists, while Kesley Cahill (Cumberland, R.I.) and Taylor DeSanty (North Adams, Mass.) added 11 points apiece. DeSanty, the NAC Player of the Year added seven rebounds to her stat line.
The Spartans never trailed in the contest, scoring the first seven points of the game on buckets from Leonard and Powers, followed by a Jaques three-ball that forced a Charger timeout just 2:44 into the contest. Bullett broke the ice with a driving lay-up coming out of the time out, but Castleton answered with an 8-2 run over the next three minutes to take a 15-4 lead at the 13-minute mark.
Jaques staked the Spartans to a 23-9 lead at the 9:15 mark, setting off a flurry from both squads in which they traded three-pointers over the next four possessions. Bullett and DeSanty each struck for the Chargers, but Castleton countered with three's from Tarryn Bolognani (Whitingham, Vt.) and Leonard to keep the cushion at 14.
Colby-Sawyer opened the second half with a couple hoops from Cahill inside to cut the deficit to 40-30 by the 18:36 mark, but the Spartans once again answered with an extended 10-0 run that saw their lead balloon to 50-30 on an O'Sullivan jumper with 10:23 remaining.
Castleton led by as many as 22 at the 8:22 mark, and the Chargers whittled the lead to as few as 12 at the 1:50 mark but the Spartans were able to salt the game away at the free throw line down the stretch.
Two-time NAC Defensive Player of the Year Kelly Conway (Rutland, Vt.) was instrumental in limiting DeSanty – the NAC Player of the Year – to just 4-for-20 shooting from the field.
For the game Castleton limited Colby-Sawyer to just 26.9% shooting from the field, while shooting 35.9% on the other end.
Colby-Sawyer will await word on an ECAC New England appearance at 21-7.
Castleton improves to 22-5, a new high-water mark for wins in a season, and advances to the NCAA Division III National Tournament. The Spartans will learn their dancing destination and opponent on Monday at 2:30 pm when the NCAA unveils its tournament selections live on www.NCAA.com.