The Castleton University women’s basketball team found a way to rally back from a 12-point deficit in the first quarter to defeat Rhode Island College 68-63 in overtime on Saturday.
A 20-point second half including overtime saw senior Alexis Quennevile drain five monumental three-pointers in regulation and three key free throws to seal the deal for Castleton.
“Coach (Tim Barrett) got on me at halftime and told me to take those open shots, and once they started falling, the hoop just started seeming bigger,” said Quenneville, an Orwell native and Fair Haven Union High School graduate.
In what started with a 24-second moment of silence in remembrance of the death of Kobe Bryant before the National Anthem, Castleton appeared sluggish to start, only scoring seven points in the first quarter.
Leading the Spartans in scoring overall was junior guard Brooke Raiche with 23 points and seven rebounds. Raiche’s tenacious effort was crucial for the Spartans early on, especially at halftime when 22 of the 23 points scored by Castleton were by Raiche and freshman guard Elise Magro, who finished with 17 points, six assists, four rebounds and four steals.
“I think one of the things I did say (at halftime) was we need some other players to step up in the second half,” Barrett said. “We missed a lot of easy shots in the first half.”
“Last couple games I’ve really been struggling with my layups, and I came out and scored a couple early, so I think that really boosted my confidence,” Raiche said.
To start the third quarter, Raiche dropped a beautiful finger-roll layup to record the first basket of the second half. A 7-0 run for Castleton that was halted by a three-pointer made by Rhode Island College’s Sophia Guerrier, was answered with Quenneville’s first three-pointer of the game, truly shifting the momentum at the end of the third quarter.
Castleton secured its first lead of the game at Glenbrook Gymnasium after a jump shot from Elise Magro took a lucky bounce. The Anchorwomen would keep fighting with a relentless effort from Antonia Corsinetti, who finished with 17 points going 5-10 from three-point-range.
With 4.5 seconds remaining in the game, Quenneville drilled a three-pointer to take a three point lead. However, a timeout made by Rhode Island College gave the Anchorwomen a better opportunity at a game-tying shot, which was made by Jordyn Gauvin as time expired.
In overtime, a pull-up jumper at the right elbow by Magro with under a minute remaining granted Castleton another lead. Tough defensive stands and successful free-throw shooting would carry the Spartans to victory in front of their home crowd.
Coach Barrett was especially proud of Magro’s confidence as a freshman in the overtime period.
“She’s (Magro) able to create her own shot, and I think she’s doing a better job of recognizing when she needs to pull-up and take that and not try to go all the way to the rim,” said Barrett, who is in his 19th season as head coach of the Spartans. “That was a huge answer for us, because things weren’t going, first couple possessions they got the early lead in overtime, and I think that kinda settled us down a little bit, once she hit that shot it kinda settled us down and were able to get some momentum back in overtime.”
For Castleton, the win against Rhode Island College puts them in fourth place in the Little East Conference (LEC) standings with a 12-8 overall record and 7-4 LEC record. The Anchorwomen drop to 16-4 overall and 8-3 in LEC play.
“I’m really proud of the way of how our toughness was today,” Barrett said. “I really think I saw our team grow up today, from a toughness standpoint. They (Castleton) had a couple of opportunities to have the game go in the other direction and they didn’t allow it to happen.”
The Spartans return to action riding a two-game win streak on Feb. 8 for a LEC matchup on the road at Western Connecticut State University at 1 p.m