CASTLETON, VT. – The Spartans locked down on defense when they needed it most, giving up just one point over the final five minutes to earn the ECAC Division III New England Championship with a hard-fought 51-42 victory over Suffolk on Sunday afternoon in Glenbrook Gymnasium.
Castleton led by just one, 42-41, at the five-minute mark, but concluded the game on a 9-1 run to earn the program's first-ever ECAC Championship. Senior guard Kelly Conway was named the Most Outstanding Player after spearheading the Spartans' defensive effort. Conway scored just three points but had five rebounds, two steals and two blocks while harassing Jacqueline Vienneau into seven turnovers and 6-for-18 shooting from the floor.
Suffolk finished the game shooting 29.6 percent from the floor, the 15th time this season Castleton has held an opponent under 30 percent shooting. The Spartans also forced 18 turnovers, matched a season high with eight blocks and scored 19 second-chance points compared to just six for the Rams.
Castleton finished the game at 30.5 percent from the field, led by Alyssa Leonard and Jade Desroches. Leonard scored a team-high 14 points to go with eight rebounds, four assists and three steals. Jade Desroches came off the bench to scored 13 points, including three triples, and added five rebounds and a career-high three blocks.
Vienneau scored a game-high 15 points to go along with six rebounds and three assists. Jennifer Ruys added nine points, seven rebounds and an impressive six blocks.
The Spartans came out aggressive and jumped out to a 7-1 lead over the first five minutes. Vienneau hit a jumper to end the run, but Castleton extended its lead to 16-7 on baseline jump shot from Meghan O'Sullivan with 11:41 left in the half. The Spartans eventually extended their lead to ten, 29-19, on a jump shot by Stephanie Linder with 5:44 remaining.
Illiana Quadri countered with back-to-back buckets to drop the lead to six, 19-13, before a Shelby LaBarge free throw and O'Sullivan layup pushed the lead back to nine at 2:19. Quadri drilled a three from the corner 30 seconds later, but Desroches concluded the scoring with a nice bank shot from just outside the right block to make 24-16 with 1:26 left. Strong defense over the final minute left the Spartans in front by eight at the break.
The teams traded baskets to open the second, however, five straight by the Rams made it 28-23 at 16:22. Leonard responded with a jumper and Castleton eventually pushed its advantage back to eight on a shot from beyond the arc by Desroches with 9:26 remaining.
Trailing by eight, Suffolk went on a 6-0 run to slice the Spartan lead to just two, 36-34, with 8:01 left. Leonard nailed a jumper on Castleton's next possession, but a 5-2 run by Vienneau kept the Rams within one, 40-39, at 6:33. Leonard then found LaBarge down low for a nice layup, though Shelby Santini beat the defense down the floor for a layup to make it 42-41 with 5:13 remaining.
LaBarge hit a pair of free throws at 4:55, and after a defensive stop, Leonard made two from the line for the five-point lead. Vienneau made one of two free throws with 3:04 left, but that was Suffolk's last point as another three from Desroches put Castleton in front for good, 49-42, with 1:47 remaining.
Suffolk finishes its season with a 23-8 record while the Spartans conclude with a program-record 29-2 mark for the year.
Senior Tarryn Bolognani had nine rebounds, two points and two blocks and finishes her career as the winningest player in program history with record of 86-28. Conway, meanwhile, earned 69 wins and three NAC Defensive Player of the Year awards in her three seasons at Castleton.
March 2, 2013
CASTLETON, Vt. – Top-seeded Castleton opened each half with a sustained run, and clamped down on Westfield State to ensure its first-ever trip to the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) New England Women's Basketball Championship Final with a 53-43 win over the fifth-seeded Owls.
The Spartans placed three players in double figures, led by freshman Stephanie Linder and junior Alyssa Leonard who each scored a game-high 14. Jade Desroches chipped in a dozen off the bench and Leonard added seven boards to her stat line.
Westfield State struggled to find a scoring rhythm against the nation's fifth-ranked defense. Gabby Felix was the lone Owl in double-figures with 11 points on 5-for-11 shooting and Jenny Bell added eight.
The Spartans scored the first nine points of the contest and led 13-4 with just over 11 minutes remaining in the opening half, but a five-minute scoring drought allowed the Owls to climb back into contest. A pair of Briana Kelly free throws brought Westfield State within one at 13-12 with 7:37 remaining in the opening half, but a Linder three-pointer ignited an 8-2 run that pushed the lead back to eight at 21-14.
Leading 21-16 after intermission, Castleton opened the second stanza on a 15-2 run over the opening six minutes of play to push its lead to a high-water mark at 36-18. Leonard and Linder keyed the run, each scored five points during the surge, with the latter coming up with a pretty steal and assist on a Desroches trifecta that elicited an Owl timeout.
The Owls clawed their way back within 10 on a number of occasions, but couldn't get it under double-digits the rest of the way.
Castleton never trailed in the contest and converted 20 Westfield State turnovers into 22 points to key the win.
The Spartans (28-2) advance to the ECAC Final against Suffolk. Game time is slated for 1 p.m. Sunday.
February 27, 2013
CASTLETON, Vt. – The Spartans never let their lead slip below double digits in the second half as they earned a 63-47 victory over Albertus Magnus in the quarterfinals of the ECAC Tournament on Wednesday evening at Glenbrook Gym.
Top seed Castleton shot only 34.1 percent from the floor but held the Falcons to 24.1 percent shooting and forced 19 turnovers to improve to 27-2 on the year. Albertus Magnus was outrebounded by a 55-51 margin as the team concluded its season with a 20-8 record.
Stephanie Linder was dominant inside with 15 points and 11 rebounds for her first career double-double. The freshman also added three steals and four blocks without committing a turnover in 20 minutes of action. Alyssa Leonard was the only other Castleton player in double figures with 14 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Lianna Carrero led the Falcons with 17 points and seven rebounds but shot just 5-for-16 from the floor. Senior Kendrea Walker added ten points, eight rebounds and three blocks. Annie Raucci chipped in with seven points, six rebounds and two blocks.
Meghan O'Sullivan led off the game with a jumper from the top of the key and the Spartans scored the first 11 points of the game in less than four minutes of action. Albertus Magnus responded with four straight, but Castleton pushed its lead back to 11, 19-8, with 11:03 remaining in the first half.
The two teams traded baskets over the next four minutes, with a Leonard jump shot making it 29-18. Walker responded with a layup of her own; however, a three-point play from Shelby LaBarge and a jump shot from Linder extended the advantage to 14, with 5:01 left. Castleton allowed Albertus Magnus just three points over the final five minutes to go into the break with a 40-24 advantage.
In the second half the Spartans stretched their lead to 18, though a 6-2 run by the Falcons cut their deficit to just 14, 46-32, with 16:14 left. Castleton locked down on defense and held Albertus Magnus to just a single basket over the next ten minutes while scoring 14 points to extend the team's lead to 26, 60-34. Nicole Acerra ended the run on a pair of free throws with 6:03 left. The Spartans bench played the final six minutes as the team finished with the 16-point victory.
Kelly Conway was solid once again with four rebounds, four assists, four steals and two points. Shelby LaBarge added nine points, five rebounds and two blocks off the bench.
Semifinals – Saturday, Mar. 2 at Castleton
Castleton vs. Westfield St. - 1 p.m.
Suffolk vs. Wellesley - 3 p.m.
Championship – Sunday, Mar. 3 at Castleton
Two Semifinal Winners - 1 p.m.
February 26, 2013
CASTLETON, Vt. – The Castleton women's basketball team looks to keep its record-setting season going, as the Spartans were selected as the top seed in the upcoming ECAC Tournament. They will host No. 8 seed Albertus Magnus on Wednesday evening at 5:30 in Glenbrook Gym.
Castleton is program-record 26-2 this season after coming up just short in the North Atlantic Conference Championship game on Saturday, dropping a tough 65-59 decision to Colby-Sawyer. This is the Spartans first trip to the ECAC Tournament since 2007, and they are making their second straight postseason appearance after going to the NCAA Tourament a season ago.
No. 8 seed Albertus Magnus enters the ECAC Tournament with a 20-6 record. The Falcons are coming off a 72-48 loss to Emmanuel in the semifinals of the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC).
Quarterfinals – Wednesday, Feb. 27
No. 8 Albertus Magnus (20-7) at No. 1 Castleton (26-2), 5:30 p.m.
No. 7 Endicott (16-11) at No. 2 Suffolk (21-7), 7:00 p.m.
No. 6 Salve Regina (17-11) at No. 3 Wellesley (15-10), 7:00 p.m.
No. 5 Westfield State (18-10) at No. 4 Roger Williams (19-8), 7:00 p.m.
Semifinals – Saturday, Mar. 2 at highest remaining seed
No. 1/No. 8 winner vs. No. 4/No. 5 winner
No. 2/No. 7 winner vs. No. 6/No. 3 winner
Championship – Sunday, Mar. 3 at semifinal site
Two Semifinal Winners, TBD