Spartans Lose NAC Opener at Johnson State

Spartans Lose NAC Opener at Johnson State

JOHNSON, Vt. – Castleton University's up-tempo style allowed the Spartans to take the early lead, but Johnson State improved on both ends of the floor in the second half, as the Badgers came from behind for an 82-70 victory Tuesday night in a North Atlantic Conference men's basketball game at Carter Gym.

Senior Tondi Mushandu played his best game of the young season, notching his seventh career double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds, plus he earned four steals. Nathaniel Kingsley was hot early, hitting three first half three-pointers on his way to a 15-point performance, while Ben Mrowka and Jordan Nelson scored nine points apiece.

Kingsley hit two three-pointers in the first three minutes of the game as Castleton opened a 14-6 lead, and then Kingsley and Pavin Parrish hit consecutive three-pointers to allow the Spartans to extend their advantage to 25-13. However, Johnson State started its comeback with eight unanswered points, all scored by Marqwon Wynn.

Down 35-28, Johnson State continued to cut into the Spartan lead, starting with a three-pointer by Jeyquan Johnson. Castleton made enough shots in the final three minutes to maintain the lead, going into the locker room ahead at halftime, 44-41.

After a Mrowka three-pointer extended the Spartan lead back to five, the Badgers scored six straight points, the last four by Johnson, to pull ahead, 52-51. Castleton regained the lead and once again increased it to five at 63-58 on a layup by Mushandu, but Johnson State again rallied, putting together a 16-2 scoring run, led by Johnson with seven points, to once again take the lead at 74-65 with five minutes left in regulation.

After shooting 48.6 percent from the field in the first half, Castleton hit only 30.8 percent of its second half field goal attempts, missing 11 of 12 shots from behind the three-point line after halftime. The Spartans did win the rebounding battle, 43-31, scoring 15 second-chance points as well as 24 points off 19 Badger turnovers.

Johnson State (2-2, 1-0 NAC) shot 55.2 percent (32-of-58) from the field, including 6-of-16 from behind the three-point line, and 75 percent (12-of-16) from the free throw line. Wynn led the Badgers with 22 points and eight assists, Johnson finished with 20 points, and Demetrius Slade contributed 18 points, six rebounds, four assists, and nine steals.

Castleton (2-4, 0-1 NAC) hosts New England College Saturday, Dec. 2, at Glenbrook Gym starting at 3 p.m.