HENNIKER, N.H.- The Castleton women’s basketball team jumped to 5-0 on the season and tipped off conference play by defeating New England College 68-57 in a rematch of last year’s North Atlantic Conference championship last Wednesday.
A 15-point fourth quarter by senior Jade Desroches helped seal the victory as did clutch free throw shooting by the Spartans, who shot 26-30 from the stripe in the game.
“I’d say our defense was the key. We kept a lead most of the game, so by consistently getting stops then scores on the other end of the court made it so we could stay on top at the end when it mattered,” Descroches said.
Senior Bryanna DuPont paced the Spartans with 16 points and six rebounds while junior Lindsay Sabo provided a deep threat as she connected on four three-pointers, tallying 14 points in total.
Castleton jumped ahead 12-6 midway through the first quarter as DuPont scored six straight, forcing New England to burn a timeout.
“As a team we talked about the importance of coming out strong to get NEC back on their heels. They have always proved to be an aggressive team that feeds off energy and momentum so we knew we had to set the pace from tip off,” DuPont said. “I think that definitely played into my mindset going into the game and I’m just glad I was able to provide a spark for our team in the first quarter.”
The Pilgrims would make a run of their own led by junior Utshana Durham. Her eight point spurt tied the score at 24 with 2:19 left in the first half, testing the Spartans’ toughness.
“I was just thinking that we needed to pick our defense up in order to get the momentum back,” DuPont said.
Castleton responded, scoring nine unanswered to send them to the locker room with a 33-24 lead.
The Spartans stayed strong in the third, adding one point to their lead as they headed into the fourth quarter with a ten point advantage.
New England came out aggressive once again by opening the final frame with a 5-0 run to cut the deficit to just five points before Desroches took over by hitting 11-12 free throws to secure the victory.
“I felt like I had to step up a little going into the fourth, I had been pretty quiet all game and I just wanted to make sure we came out with the W,” Desroches said.