Following a blowout loss to Elms College on Feb. 15, the Castleton men’s basketball team looked to recover the very next night versus Becker College. They did just that. The Spartans responded with a nail-biter of a victory over Becker, a team they had previously lost to by 16 points. Castleton escaped with an 84-82 victory improving their record to 14-9 (7-5 in the NAC).
It was a close game throughout, with Castleton holding slim 43-36 lead at the half. However, the tide would quickly turn after the intermission.
Becker stormed out of the second-half gates with a 15-0 run, quieting the crowd of 227 in Glenbrook Gymnasium.
Now trailing, Castleton responded with a couple timely three-point field goals. This should come as no surprise to anyone that has followed this long-bomb launching team. The Castleton men have consistently shown their ability to shoot, and make, three-pointers throughout the season. The Spartans knocked down 13 of 29 attempts from the beyond the arc.
Eventually, this close game would come down to free-throws. Josh Howe, who led the Spartans with 34 points, hit two free-throws in the final minute of the game to give Castleton a two point lead. Becker had a chance to tie or win the game in their final possession, but an attempted lay-up was blocked by Howe at the buzzer.
Fans attending not only saw a great game, but also witnessed two major milestones. Howe, a junior guard from Randolph, Vt., reached the 1,000 point plateau for his college career in the first half. Howe has led the Spartans all year with his consistent scoring, averaging 19.5 points per contest.
The other career milestone came from Richard Reilly, the team’s senior point guard from Manassas, Va. Reilly finished the game with 18 points and 11 assists. Reilly, who surpassed the 1,000 point plateau last season, became Castleton’s all-time assist leader, surpassing the old record of 527.
Prior to the milestones of Saturday night, three Spartans had been named the NAC Player of the Week. Howe and Reilly each received the honor once, as well as senior Joey Farley.
Following this game, Castleton lost a close game to rival Green Mountain College by a score of 80-77. The Spartans were handed defeat after a game winning three-pointer scorched the net with only 1.4 second remaining in the game.
This heart-wrenching loss was followed by the last game of the regular season, which doubled as senior night at Glenbrook Gymnasium. In what may have been the final home game of Reilly’s career, he was as impressive as ever and only one rebound shy of a triple-double. He would finish the game with 19 points, 10 assists, and 9 rebounds as the Spartans handed Johnson State a 93-82 loss.
Castleton finished the regular season with a record of 15-10 (8-5 in the NAC). The team has been awarded the #3 seed in the NAC West Division and traveled to Lesley University for the quarterfinal round game on Tuesday. In their only previous meeting of the season, Lesley was able to defeat the Spartans 75-69. The Spartan went to press before the game was played.