March 2, 2013

Castleton Men's Basketball Falters in ECAC Semifinal

Westfield, Mass. – No 4 Castleton kept it close for a while but top-seeded Westfield St. was able to pull away in the end and finish with an 88-72 victory over the Spartans in the ECAC New England Division III men's basketball semifinals at the Woodward Center on Saturday afternoon. 

Owl senior Matt Devine scored a game-high 19 points and 14 rebounds to pace five players in double figures as the team improved to 23-5 with the win. The Spartans shot 43.8 percent from the field and hit ten threes as they finished their season with a 17-13 record. It marks the fourth straight winning season for Castleton, the first time the program has achieved that feat 25 years. 

Logan White led the offense with 19 points and three steals while Mark Comstockadded 14, despite being plagued with foul trouble. Dammy Mustapha chipped in with eight rebounds, two steals and two points in his final game as a Spartan. 

Westfield used its patented trapping defense to force 24 Castleton turnovers, and the Owls used their height advantage, as the 6-7 Devine, 6-6 Ryan White (17 points, 6 rebounds) and Grant Cooper (14 points, 5 rebounds) consistently scored points in the paint for the Owls. 

Westfield led 37-34 at the intermission, fueled by the strong inside play of Cooper, who had 12 first-half points, and eight each from White and Devine. 

Westfield (23-5) used a 12-5 spurt out of the intermission to grab a double-figure lead, 49-39, on a steal and layup by Jordan Santiago with 16:17 left. 

Westfield built its lead as big as 14 points on a Devine dunk with 11:42 left in regulation.  

Castleton hung tough for the next five minutes, whittling the lead back down to nine with 7:07 to play before Westfield was able to open up the final margin of victory. 

With the Spartans holding a 26-16 lead with 7:12 left in the half, Westfield went on a 15-4 run of its own spurred by a Dan Tessier three-pointer to start. The Owls grabbed their first lead of the game, 31-30 on a pair of free throws by Santiago with 1:53 left in the first half.




February 27, 2013

CASTLETON, Vt. – Senior Dammy Mustapha elevated over the defense to tip in a layup with just 4.8 seconds remaining to give Castleton an 80-79 lead, which proved to be the difference as a last-second shot by Wentworth went long and Castleton held on for the one-point victory in Glenbrook Gym on Wednesday night. 

The Spartans trailed most of the second half and found themselves with the ball and down 77-76 with less than a minute to play. They got the ball inside to seniorMark Comstock. He took it on the right block, spun baseline and used his shoulder to create some room before lofting a shot into the net with just 30 seconds left for the one-point Castleton lead. 

Now behind by one, Wentworth worked the clock down and moved the ball around until Dailon Wilson found Nico Donato on the block for a layup with just 12 seconds remaining. Tyler Ackley received the inbound pass and sprinted by his man and down the left side of the lane before attempting a layup. The ball bounced off the rim, but Mustapha elevated over everyone in the lane and was able to tap it in with his right hand to give the Spartans an 80-79 lead with 4.8 seconds left. 

Wentworth tried an inbounds pass to the opposite foul line and Comstock knocked it out of bounds, leaving 2.6 seconds the clock. On the Leopards final play, Derek Mayo's shot from the right corner bounced away harmlessly as Castleton held on. 

The win is the first-ever in ECAC Tournament play for the fourth seeded Spartans as they improved to 17-12 with the victory. No. 5 seed Wentworth saw its season come to a close with a 16-12 overall mark. 

Comstock led the Castleton offense with 21 points, five rebounds and three steals, and was one of four players in double figures. Mustapha finished with 14 off the bench and seven boards, six on the offensive end. Logan White added 12 points while Ackley finished with 10 points and dished off eight assists. 

Mayo was the Leopards top player on the evening, with 19 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals. JohnMichael Fragnoli chipped in with 13 points and four rebounds before fouling out while Wilson (12), Donato (12) and Colin Johnson (10) all reached double figures.

Castleton opened up the game on a 13-6 run over the game's first five minutes and stretched it as high as nine, 18-9, on a three from Casey McGraw with 13:48 left in the half. The teams traded baskets until a 5-0 run put the Spartans in front 29-17 at 7:41. 

Donato and Wilson drilled back-to-back threes to cut the lead to six and Wentworth made it a four-point game on a layup by Fragnoli with 2:54 left. Castleton countered with five straight, but an 11-3 run by the Leopards tied the game with less than a minute in the half. Comstock missed a layup with just seconds left in the half but White tipped it in at the buzzer for the two-point lead, 40-38. 

The Spartans scored the first two buckets of the second, but an 11-4 run by Wentworth made it 49-48 with 16:04 left. Comstock responded with a layup but the Leopards countered and used consecutive triples to take a 58-52 lead with 11:50 remaining. 

Wentworth maintained its lead over the next six minutes, until an old fashioned three-point play by Mustapha tied the game, 71-71, with 5:19 left. The Leopards pushed their lead to four, but the Spartans fought back and backdoor layup by White make it 77-76 with 2:19, setting up the last-minute drama. 

Semifinals – Saturday, Mar. 2 at Westfield St.

Westfield St. vs. Castleton, 1 p.m.

Anna Maria vs. Eastern Connecticut St., 3 p.m.

Championship – Sunday, Mar. 3 at Westfield St.

Two Semifinal Winners, 1 p.m.


February 26, 2013

CASTLETON, Vt. – The Castleton men's basketball team is headed to the postseason, as the team was selected as the No. 4 seed in the upcoming ECAC Tournament. The Spartans will host fifth-seeded Wentworth on Wednesday evening at 7:30 pm. 

Castleton is 16-12 on the season after coming up just short in the North Atlantic Conference Championship game on Saturday, falling to Husson 74-68. The Spartans were selected to the ECAC Tournament for the first time since 2007 and are making their second trip to the postseason after going to the NCAA Tournament a season ago. 

No. 5 seed Wentworth finished the year at 16-11 after falling to Gordon 73-54 in the semifinals of Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC). The Leopards beat Nichols in the 73-69 in the CCC quarterfinals to end a three-game losing streak.

Quarterfinals – Wednesday, Feb. 27

No. 8 Emerson College (15-11 at No. 1 Westfield State (21-5), 7:00 p.m.

No. 7 University of Southern Maine (15-12) at No. 2 Anna Maria College (20-8), 7:00 p.m.

No. 6 Johnson & Wales University (15-12) at No. 3 Eastern Connecticut State University (19-8), 7:30 p.m.

No. 5 Wentworth Institute of Technology (16-12) at No. 4 Castleton  (16-11), 7:30 p.m. 

Semifinals – Saturday, Mar. 2 at highester remaining seed

No. 1/No. 8 winner vs. No. 4/5 winner, TBA

No. 2/No. 7 winner vs. No. 3/6 winner, TBA

Championship – Sunday, Mar. 3 at semifinal site

Two Semifinal Winners, TBA