CASTLETON — You can put the video of the Castleton University’s women’s basketball team’s 55-54 victory over Middlebury College on Tuesday night right up on the top shelf with the greatest comebacks in Glenbrook Gym’s history.

The Spartans trailed Middlebury by as many as 21 points and went to the locker room at halftime with a 17-point deficit.

The wily veteran Castleton coach Tim Barrett made some defensive adjustments at the half, notably on the Panthers’ Reagan McDonald.

McDonald had 17 points at the half, nailing five of six of her shots from beyond the 3-point line. McDonald never scored in the second half.

That adjustment, parlayed by some much better shooting by the Spartans, enabled them to pare Middlebury’s 41-24 halftime lead down to 45-40 by the end of the third quarter.

Rutland’s Elise Magro had a game-high 23 points and the energy in the gym went up several notches when she nailed a 3-point field goal at the start of the fourth quarter to make the score 45-43.

A couple of free throws by Magro moved the Spartans into a tie.

Giana Palli drove hard to the hoop and completed a three-point play to recapture the lead for the Panthers.

CU’s Ryleigh Coloutti (14 points, eight rebounds) answered with one of her three 3-point field goals to tie the score at 48.

Gwyn Tatton struck from the outside to put the Spartans in front but the Panthers went back in front, 52-50.

Tatton made a free throw and Magro knocked down a 17-footer to put the Spartans ahead for good, 53-52 with 2:05 remaining.

Magro drove to the hoop to cushion the lead but Emily Downer scored to pull the Panthers within a point with a minute remaining.

The Panthers called a timeout with 24.5 seconds remaining. The Spartans had fouls to give and they used them judiciously to help take the clock down to 6.2 seconds.

Palli drove to the hoop and got her shot up barely before the buzzer went off. It rolled tantalizingly around the rim but would not fall, touching off a wild celebration of the Castleton players and the partisan crowd.

Despite being shut down in the second half, McDonald led the Panthers with 17 points.

Kelly Vuz joined Magro and Coloutti in double figures with 11 points.

The Spartans were outrebounded by the much taller Panthers, 46-35.

But Castleton got some big caroms at critical times, rebounding by committee. Olivia Perry and Tatton had six rebounds each and Vuz grabbed another five.

The Spartans improved their record to 4-2 heading into the Little East Conference opener on Dec. 4 at Rhode Island College.

The Panthers started 2-0 but are now 2-2.

The sign on Castleton’s locker room door showed their respect for Middlebury. It read: “Show the Panthers your best high-scoring game. They are not unbeatable.”

They were not unbeatable on this evening — not even with a 21-point lead.

tom.haley

@rutlandherald.com

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