Women's basketball builds lead, holds off Castleton

FARMINGTON -- The University of Maine at Farmington women's basketball team built a 13-point first-half lead and held on to dispatch Castleton State College 63-58 in North Atlantic Conference action this afternoon at Dearborn Gymnasium.

The Beavers (9-11, 6-4) are slated to host Lyndon State College Friday at 7:30 p.m., while the Spartans (12-8, 6-3) are tabbed to take Green Mountain College Tuesday at 8 p.m.

Ashley Busque (Belgrade, Maine) netted a game-high 23 points for Farmington, including four 3-pointers, while Jillian Ross (Belfast, Maine) pitched in 11 points and Paige Saunders (Surry, Maine) added eight points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots.

Farmington clung to a 19-16 lead in the first half before the hosts distanced themselves from Castleton with a 17-7 stretch over the final 5:52 of the frame. Busque, Ross and Kenni Norton (Strong, Maine) each hit a three during the stretch. The Beavers knocked down 12 of 12 free throws and limited the Spartans to 27.3 percent (9-33) shooting in the opening half.

Vanessa Powers (Marshfield, Vt.) led the Spartans with 15 points and nine rebounds, while Christine Jaques (Burlington, Vt.) chipped in 14 points and four steals.

Christine Jaques led Castleton with 17 points with Alyssa Leonard and Vanessa Powers each providing 14 points and Kristie Dunchus adding 11 points off the bench.

The Farmington cushion ballooned to 16 points early in the second half, but the Spartans ripped off a 13-2 stretch with a Jaques jumper bringing to visitors to 45-40. Moments later, Taylor Race (Germantown, N.Y.) converted a traditional three-point play to get Castleton to within a point at 46-45 with 7:59 remaining in the contest.

Busque buried 3-pointers on back-to-back trips to quash the Spartans' run and push Farmington back into a 52-45 command with seven minutes to go. Castleton stayed close, but could not get the score down to within a single possession as the Beavers held on for the 63-58 victory.