It was Senior Day for the Castleton women’s basketball team, but junior Vanessa Powers stole the show dropping in 34 points going 16-of-17 (7-of-7 in the second half) from the field while grabbing 10 rebounds to lead the Spartans past visiting North Atlantic Conference rival Husson University 85-62 on Saturday Feb. 12 at Glenbrook Gymnasium. “We haven’t beat Husson since the last time we won the NAC (in 2009),” Powers said. “It was good to prove to them that we are better.”
Since the 09 championship, the Spartans have lost four-straight times to the Eagles, most recently earlier this season on Jan 21, 87-57.
Seniors Kristie Dunchus and Megan Johnson were honored before tip-off for their years spent with the Castleton basketball program Coupled with Senior Day was the Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Association “PinkZone” game in which more than 1,800 teams across all divisions of college and high school wear pink and take donations for breast cancer awareness.
The Spartans donned pink headbands, socks, and warmup tees, and the referees sported flashy, pink whistles.
Castleton came out ready to play and so did Husson as the two teams battled early in the first half.
After a Dunchus turnaround lay in and a big 3 pointer from Christine Jaques, the score was knotted at 7-7.
Jaques finished with 15 points, while freshman Alyssa Leonard had 14.
Husson used a press that had the Castleton breakout rattled, but the Spartans made the adjustment of a player flying the zone after an Eagle shot attempt and hit the usually streaking Powers for an open lane to the rack.
Castleton used this play to cap a 10-3 run when Powers pulled up and hit the jumper with about eight minutes remaining in the first period.
Husson eventually abandoned the press because the Castleton long breakout pass was just too much to stifle and the Eagles went into halftime down 36-24.
By then Powers had already scored 14 points and snagged eight boards.
“Vanessa had a monster game for us,” Castleton coach Tim Barrett said. “She had good preparation.”
Powers opened the scoring in the second half with a jumper from Johnson, and went on to have the first 15 points of the second half before finally taking a breath. Johnson finished with only four points but was second on the team with eight rebounds.
Husson returned to its press and again Castleton took the arial route, but the Spartans also adopted a quick, “keep-away” style ball movement up the floor for when the Eagles were able to cover the long pass that worked so well in the first half.
Castleton made its best effort to pull away but the conference perennial, Husson would not go away easy and the Spartans had to hit most of their shots down the stretch to stay significantly ahead.
The Spartans did.
“We had an advantage inside,” Barrett said. “And what was different today, we got the ball inside, and we finished. We did a good job as a team.”
Castleton won the assist column 28-10.
The Spartans capped a late run with a layup from Dunchus that drew a timeout from the Husson coach with 9:37 remaining and Castleton was able to cruise from there behind five more points from Powers. Dunchus finished with eight points.
On Friday Feb. 11 Castleton downed NAC foe, Maine Maritime Academy 76-60 at Glenbrook Gymnasium.
Powers led all scorers with 20 points, while Leonard had 16 and Jaques 11.
Castleton travels to Lyndon State on Saturday, Feb. 19 to take on the Hornets for its final North Atlantic Conference game at 4 p.m.