CASTLETON, Vt. – The Castleton University men's basketball team mounted a second-half comeback attempt, but fell short on Saturday evening as the team dropped a Little East Conference matchup to UMass-Dartmouth, 75-63.
Casey Belade set a career-high scoring mark for the second consecutive game, dropping 28 points in the contest on 11-of-20 shooting, including a 6-for-10 mark from three. Denis LeCours and Michael Morgan chipped in with nine points apiece off the bench, while Nate Gilcris and Morgan grabbed five rebounds apiece.
The Corsairs had four players hit double digits in scoring, led by Jake Ashworth's 20 points on 6-of-12 from three. Arinze Obiora collected 16 points and eight rebounds, while Marcus Azor and Atakan Akcam had 10 points each. Azor added seven rebounds and seven assists in the UMD victory.
The Spartans fall to 3-12 overall and 0-7 in LEC play with the defeat, while the Corsairs improve to 12-4 overall and 6-1 against league competition. Castleton outshot UMass-Dartmouth 52.1 percent (25-of-48) to 46.2 percent (30-of-65). The Spartans also knocked down an impressive 58.8 percent of shots from three-point land, going 10-of-17 beyond the arc. Castleton turned the ball over 23 times which led to 25 UMass-Dartmouth points in the contest, and the Corsairs cashed in on 16 second-chance points while Castleton had just two.
UMass-Dartmouth had the hot hand shooting in the opening minutes, racing out to a 23-11 lead just eight minutes into the contest. The lead was stretched to a game-high 14 points, 27-13, just a minute later when Obiora knocked down 1-of-2 from the line. Castleton sparked a 7-0 run following the free throws, capped by a jumper from Morgan to make it 27-20. The Spartans hung tough into the halftime break, trailing 38-31 heading into the locker room.
Castleton picked up the pressure in the opening minutes of the second half as Gilcris knocked down a layup on the first possession of the period. After the two sides traded buckets to make it 42-35 Corsairs, Castleton got a layup from Morgan and a three from LeCours to cut the deficit to just two points. UMass-Dartmouth began to pull away again, but a Morgan jumper kept the deficit at three before Ashworth nailed a triple at the other end of the court for UMD to push the lead back to six. Castleton hung around, as Belade made a trio of threes over a two-minute span, holding the gap at just six points with less than three minutes to play. Back-to-back layups by Akcam put the game out of reach, however, as the lead stretched to double digits with under two minutes on the clock before the game went final.
Castleton returns to action on Wednesday night when it travels to Rhode Island College for a Little East matchup with the Anchormen. Tip-off is slated for 7:30 p.m.