Castleton Women's Basketball Claims the 2014-15 NAC Title
The Spartans and Pilgrims were even at 38 apiece with 2:30 remaining before Jade Desroches connected on a three from the wing to put Castleton up for good and secure the program's second-straight North Atlantic Conference (NAC) Championship with a 45-40 victory over New England College on Saturday afternoon at Glenbrook Gym.
Trailing 36-31 with just under six minutes remaining, the Pilgrims went on a 7-2 run to tie the game 38-38. Castleton worked the ball around the three-point arc on its next possession, before Ali Jones tossed a skip pass to Desroches who found nothing but net on her shot from downtown for the three-point lead.
NEC made a pair of free throws with 1:42 to cut the deficit to one point but with only 29 seconds left, Bryanna DuPont grabbed a huge offensive rebound to keep possession from the Pilgrims and Lindsay Sabo was then fouled on a three-point attempt. The sophomore went 2-for-3 from the line for the three-point lead. She added two more free throws with nine seconds left to seal the game.
Despite the late offense it was struggle for both teams to score on the day, as Castleton shot just 28.8 percent from the floor and the Pilgrims made only 21.7 percent of their shots. The two teams also combined to go just 6-for-36 from downtown. The Spartans were outrebounded 46-41 but did force 18 NEC turnovers.
Tournament MVP Meghan O'Sullivan led the Spartans with 14 points, five rebounds and three blocks while Desroches was named to the All-Tournament team after posting 12 points, seven rebounds and four steals. Makayla Farrara came off the bench to add seven points, two rebounds and two assists. Jones didn't score in the game but helped lock down NEC's top three guards to just 7-for-41 (17.1%) shooting. She also had three rebounds and two assists in 31 minutes.
Senior Kayla Lawlor scored all of her team-high 14 points in the second half while adding six rebounds, three assists and three steals. The All-Tournament selection was joined in double figures by Burgess with 12 points and five rebounds. Marjani Lillard was limited to two points but added six rebounds, three steals and two blocks.
Castleton jumped out to a 7-4 lead capped off by an O'Sullivan jumper at 16:49. Both teams struggled to score over the next eight minutes, as an O'Sullivan layup gave the Spartans just a 12-7 lead with 8:41 left. Tiffany Davis trimmed the lead to three points 11 seconds later, and a free throw at 6:14 cut the deficit to just 12-10. O'Sullivan put Castleton back up by four with a layup and the Spartans scored the final four points of the half to take an 18-10 lead at the break.
An 11-6 run to open the second half pushed the Castleton lead to 29-16 on a Farrara layup at 14:30. NEC countered with a run of its own and five straight from Lawlor trimmed it to a 33-29 game with 10:05 left. The teams traded baskets over the next two minutes with a free throw by DuPont making it 36-31 with 5:54 remaining to set up the final frantic minutes.
Castleton improves to 23-4 with the victory while the Pilgrims close their season with a 21-7 record.
The Spartans now advance to the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year and third time in the last four seasons. They find out their opponent and location at 2:30 pm on Monday during the NCAA Selection show at NCAA.com.
Kelsey Bragdon - Colby-Sawyer
Chandler Guerrette - Husson
Taylor Burgess - New England College
Kayla Lawlor - New England College
Jade Desroches - Castleton
MVP - Meghan O'Sullivan – Castleton
--Courtesy of Castleton Sports Information
2015 NAC WOMEN'S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE
Championship • Saturday, February 28 (at Castleton)
No. 1 Castleton 45, No. 3 New England College 40 - Boxscore