CASTLETON — The Castleton University women’s basketball team didn’t win the day, but they won the week. That was CU coach Tim Barrett’s perspective after Saturday’s 66-45 loss to UMass-Dartmouth ended the Spartans’ seven-game winning streak.
“We had a good week. Four conference games in seven days and we won three,” Barrett said.
They were poised to win this one, leading the Corsairs 30-29 at halftime.
But the Corsairs ratcheted up the defensive pressure and held the Spartans to just 15 points in the second half.
“Credit the girls,” UMass coach Matt Ducharme said. “They executed and were much more patient on offense. We only had four turnovers in the second half which was great.”
“We hung tough in the first half,” Barrett said. “But they turned up their defensive intensity in the second half and it got us back on our heels. We didn’t respond to it.”
The first half was what you might expect from teams bringing 12-3 records into the game. They traded the lead throughout those 20 minutes.
UMD threatened to pull away when Meaghan Donovan’s 3-point field goal extended the Corsairs’ lead to 29-22.
The Spartans closed the half with some of their best play of the day. Katlyn Toomey had two buckets sandwiched around Brooke Raiche’s successful drive to the hoop. Then, Delaney Whitehead sank both of her free throws to give the Spartans that 30-29 lead heading into the locker room.
The rest of the day belonged to the Corsairs.
It was 37-37 when Nakira Examond scored to give UMD the lead for good. Donovan followed that with a 3-pointer, Lauren Empey made a free throw and Donovan canned her third 3-pointer to push the lead to 46-37.
It just got easier from there.
Alexis Quenneville led the Spartans with 14 points and Raiche had nine. Toomey added another six points with another big game on the boards, hauling in eight rebounds.
Examond was the Corsairs’ top scorer with 13, leading four UMD players in double figures.
It pushed UMD’s Little East Conference record to 6-1 and dropped the Spartans to 4-3 in the LEC.
Next up for the Corsairs is Eastern Connecticut.
“I’ll have to look at how Castleton defended them,” Ducharme said.
Castleton defeated Eastern Connecticut 59-48.
The Spartans have a big stretch coming up with three consecutive Little East road games. They are at Rhode Island College on Wednesday and then travel to Plymouth State and Western Connecticut before coming home to play UMass-Boston on Jan. 26.
The Spartans have more than held their own in this inaugural season in the Little East after leaving the North Atlantic Conference.
Ducharme said the Spartans are a good addition.
“Castleton is a tough team and very well disciplined. And Tim is a good guy,” Ducharme said.
“I don’t love the four-hour trip, but I’m over it. The campus is beautiful here and the facilities are great.”
NOTES: Windsor’s Ashleay Wilcox, who gave the Spartans a lift recently with her scoring, has left the team. Barrett only said that she is no longer on the roster. ... Empey, who had five points and four rebounds for UMD, is the niece of the Bellows Falls football team’s line coach Mike Empey. ... The Spartans held a 36-35 edge in rebounding with Toomey and Raiche combining for 15 of them. ... UMD scored 18 points off turnovers to just six for Castleton.