CASTLETON, Vt. – The Castleton University men's basketball team went back-and-forth with Western Connecticut on Saturday evening, but the Colonials came out on top in the end as the Spartans fell by a final score of 67-53 in Little East Conference action.
Eric Shaw and Casey Belade each totaled 10 points to lead the Spartans (3-9, 0-4 LEC). Ben Mrowka finished the game with a balanced effort of seven points and seven rebounds, while Shaw added five boards of his own in the contest.
Three players reached double digits for the Colonials, led by Aaron Samuel's 14-point effort on 5-of-10 shooting. Rashard Rodriguez added 13 points off the bench, while Geary McLeod totaled 10 points. Samuel also led the way on the glass with eight rebounds for WestConn, while Ronald Jefferson and Fenton Bradley, Jr. had six rebounds apiece.
The Spartans went 18-of-50 (36.0 percent) from the field, while the Colonials shot 23-of-64 for a 35.9 percent rate from the field. Castleton also held an edge from long range, going 10-for-28 from three, while WestConn was 5-of-19 from deep. The Colonials held a strong edge at the free throw line, converting 16-of-12 attempts, with Castleton making seven of its nine chances. WestConn controlled the glass, pulling in 44 rebounds—leading to 17 second-chance points—to Castleton's 29 boards.
The two sides traded buckets out of the gate, but Castleton pieced together a 10-0 run that spanned three minutes to take a 15-5 lead just five minutes into the contest. The Colonials bounced back and leveled the game with just less than eight minutes remaining in the opening half on an emphatic dunk from Samuels on the fast break. The Samuels score sparked a 13-3 run for WestConn, giving the visitors a 30-22 lead with less than five to play in the first frame. Trailing by 11 with two minutes left in the half, Belade, Shaw and Nate Gilcris each buried threes to pull the Spartans within four points heading into the locker room, 37-33.
Castleton came out of the break firing, opening on a 5-0 run to regain the lead, 38-37 after Shaw drilled a three. McLeod gave his squad the lead back on the ensuing possession with a short jumper, but Castleton cut into the lead against when Mrowka made it 41-39 on a free throw. That was as close as the Spartans would sit again, as WestConn rattled off a 13-0 run that carried the game inside of 10 minutes before Belade drained a three to stop the bleeding. The Colonials kept the pressure on the remainder of the game, holding the Spartans off en route to the 67-53 final.
Castleton returns to the hardwood on Tuesday night when it travels to Eastern Connecticut for an LEC matchup. Tip-off is slated for 7:30 p.m.