CASTLETON — Castleton women’s basketball fans who came to Glenbrook Gym for the season opener received a pretty nice package from their Spartans. There was the 60-52 victory over Norwich, a scintillating debut from the freshman point guard, some impressive 3-point shooting under pressure from Alexis Quenneville and what coach Tim Barrett felt was some “character.”
The Spartans appeared to be on the verge of burying the Cadets when they got out to a 21-9 lead late in the first quarter.
But Norwich’s Riley Bennett drilled a 3-point field goal to begin the climb back for the Cadets, who pulled even at one point (37-37) in the third quarter.
But Elise Magro dropped in a free throw to put the Spartans in front for good.
The Cadets were still within striking distamnce (50-45) when Quenneville put the game on ice with two straight 3-pointers.
Quenneville canned four of her 10 3-point attempts.
Quenneville said she has improved the mental component of her long-range shooting.
“I have gotten a lot better about forgetting about my last shot,” the senior said.
Quenneville and Magro led the Raiders with 17 points apiece and Brooke Raiche added 12. Katlyn Toomey had a game-high 11 rebounds.
It was a prettty remarkable first collegiate game for Rutland’s Magro.
“She gives us a different kind of point guard than we have had in the past; another scoring option,” Barrett said of Magro.
“She gives us everything,” Quenneville said of her new teammate. “She is great off the dribble, she is developing her shot and she plays good defense.”
Magro had two steals and only two turnovers to her three assists.
When you are playing your first college game, it doesn’t hurt to have something good happen early. And Magro sliced in for an athletic layup on the game’s first possession.
“She is a great asset,” Quenneville said.
“She plays with a lot of confidence,” Barrett said.
Barrett loved the way the Spartans responded after the Cadets tied the game.
“I think we showed some character,” Barrett said.
Magro got in foul trouble, picking up her second personal with 1:39 left in the first quarter.
Barrett sent Madison Akins, the former College of St. Joseph player, in for Magro and he also liked what he got from her.
“When Elise was in foul trouble and we played Madi for about 12 minutes, I thought she was solid,” Barrett said.
Things were not going Castleton’s way in the third quarter. Bennett drilled a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 36-35, Kailynne Frederick scored to draw the Cadets even and Raiche was saddled with her third foul.
But just as things got dicey, the Spartans revealed that “character” that Barrett spoke of.
Norwich coach Mark Zacher was happy that his Cadets showed some character themselves by climbing out of that large early hole.
“After that first quarter, we really won the last 30 minutes,” Zacher said. “I was very happy with the effort. We are young and extremely inexperienced. ...Even when they got down, they were still enthusiastic. If we can keep that going...”
Castleton also has some inexperience with six new faces. But unlike the Cadets who lost their three top scorers from last, Castleton returns a lot of key pieces with players like Raiche, Quenneville and Toomey. The Spartans also get a boost from the return of Emilee Bose, who missed last year with an ACL tear. Bose scored six points, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked two shots.
“It was the first game of the year and there were some nerves but the nerves faded,” Quenneville said. “Offensively we clicked really well.
Sandra Carlsten led the Cadets with 13 points. Bennett and Kristie Ann DeSilvio added 10 points apiece.
The Spartans will travel to play in the University Maine-Farmington Tournament on Nov. 15-16. Castleton’s opponents will be UMF and Thomas College.
The Cadets play Tuesday at New England College.