CASTLETON, Vt. – The Castleton women's basketball team started slow but took control in the second half to advance to North Atlantic Conference Championship with a 79-47 victory over the University of Maine at Farmington, Friday evening in Glenbrook Gym.
The defending conference champions shot just 33.3 percent in the opening half but still led 37-24 by forcing 22 turnovers. The Spartans finished the game at 38.8 percent from the floor and forced 31 turnovers as they improved to 26-1 overall as the return to the NAC Championship for the fifth straight year.
UMF made just 30.4 percent of its shots from the field as the team finished its season at 12-14 overall. Lindsay Ranquist (Owls Head, Maine/Medomak Valley) was the only Beaver in double figures with 13 points and five rebounds. Rachel Clement (Gray, Maine/Gray-New Gloucester) recorded nine points and scored four points while Kelsey Graffam (Falmouth, Maine/Falmouth) totaled seven points.
Liz Douglass scored 15 first-half points and finished the game with 19 to lead the Spartans. Alyssa Leonard joined her in double figures with 12 points, five rebounds and three assists. Tarryn Bolognani added ten points and Kelly Conway chipped in with seven points, five assists and five steals. Heather Murdough pulled down a team-high nine rebounds off the bench.
UMF came out aggressive and took a 9-8 lead on a layup by Ranquist with 15:29 left in the half. Leonard responded with a layup to give the Spartans back the lead and Douglass scored four straight to push the Castleton lead to 14-9 with 13:07.
The Beavers went on an 8-4 run from there and cut the Spartan lead to just one when Clement hit a layup to make it 18-17 with 9:19 left in the first. The Spartans responded by ramping up their defensive pressure, forcing 10 UMF turnovers in the final seven minutes of the first half. They capitalized on the Beavers' mistakes, going on a 19-5 run to end the frame, taking a 37-24 lead into the locker room at halftime.
In the second half, the Spartans started to pull away from the visiting Beavers. Leonard and Conway hit three-pointers on consecutive Castleton possessions to extend the Spartan lead to 15 with 16:21 remaining. The baskets sparked a 25-8 run for the Spartans over the next eight minutes to make the score 66-38 with 8:57 remaining.
The Spartans would cruise the rest of the way, earning their 23rd consecutive home victory. Castleton's bench, led by Douglass, produced 40 points, outscoring the Beavers bench 40-11.