The Castleton State College women’s basketball players are North Atlantic Conference champions. They upset the top seed and Final Four host, Husson University, 63-57. The Spartans earned a berth in the NCAA Division III National Tournament.Mary Nienow was sensational, shooting 9-14 from the field and an astounding 8-10 from behind the arc, dropping in a career-high 27 points. Husson’s NAC Rookie-of-the-Year, Bree Hanscom, and NAC Player-of-the-Year, Shelby Bradford could only combine to match Nienow in points.
Nienow went on to win tourney Most Valuable Player, while teammate Jess Banks, who scored eight points, was named to the All-Tournament team.
The Spartans began the tournament at home facing old foe Johnson State College, but the game would not be as close as the previous two meetings between the teams.
Castleton wasted no time taking it to Johnson 75-49. The Spartans also took on a sense of destiny during the game.
Leeanne Ketchen had 13 points, and Kristie Dunchus had 12 points in the winning effort.
The Spartans then traveled to Husson for the Friday semifinal to take on the number two seed, University of Maine-Farmington, in an overtime classic. It was Ketchen’s turn to shine.
Ketchen had 12 points, shooting 3-11 from the field, 5-8 from the line, and one big 3-pointer late in the overtime period. After the three, Ketchen made a play to steal an inbounds attempt by Farmington. She kept the ball in by diving into the stands and knocking the ball back to Banks for the score.
The ball and score went back and forth all night but found their way to Castleton late in the game, and the team would solidify a 61-59 win and a trip to the North Atlantic Conference championship.
The Spartans will look to do some damage in the NCAA tournament as they continue with their sense of destiny, battling Bowdoin College in Castleton’s first-ever NCAA appearance on March 6.