CASTLETON — Brooke Raiche is relishing her new role this year as a starter and it continued to show in Wednesday night’s 55-41 win over Plymouth State in women’s basketball.

Raiche had 19 points and eight rebounds in leading the Spartans in their first Little East Conference game.

“Last year I came off the bench and this year I am starting so more is expected of me. I am just glad I could step up,” Raiche said.

“We work well together.”

The Spartans controlled this game throughout the night, maintaining the lead and never allowing the Panthers to really threaten.

The dagger was a 3-point field goal from Alexis Quenneville. That bumped the lead to 14, CU’s biggest edge at the time, midway through the fourth quarter.

Olivia Perry also played a key role off the bench in the first half. The Spartans got themselves into some foul trouble so coach Tim Barrett inserted Perry into the lineup. She gave them six quick points and some solid defense.

It was a battle of teams who were in the throes of a successful early season. The Spartans brought a 4-1 mark into the game and the Panthers were 5-1.

But Castleton quickly separated itself from the Panthers, earning a 14-4 lead by the end of the first quarter.

The Panthers got back into the fray and trailed only 28-24 at halftime.

The Spartans extended the lead to 42-31 by the end of the third quarter and kept a double-digit lead the rest of the way.

“I thought we competed hard tonight and played pretty solid defense,” Barrett said.

He saw it as a quality victory.

“Plymouth had some good wins coming in,” Barrett said.

“This was a good way to start our career in the Little East Conference.”

If there was something for Barrett to be dismayed about it was the 26 turnovers the Spartans committed.

“We’ll improve on that,” he said.

Barrett also liked Raiche’s all-around game.

“She had some key offensive rebounds that stopped runs,” he said.

Mentally, it’s hard to measure just how important this win was. The Spartans were coming off their lone loss of the season eight days ago, a 74-30 thumping by Middlebury.

“That was a long time to get over a loss like that,” Barrett said.

But life looks much different now at 1-0 in the LEC.

“That gives us the momentum and it says, hey, we can compete in this league,” Raiche said.

Following Raiche in scoring was Quenneville with 11. Her night included that big trey and going 4 for 4 at the line.

Katlyn Toomey also had a significant contribution with six points, six rebounds and three steals.

Jess Conant led the Panthers with 18 points but from there it fell off to Elizabeth McLaughlin with eight.

The Spartans had a huge edge in rebounding, 36-16.

They are at home Saturday for another Little East game with Southern Maine providing the test. Tip-off is at 1 p.m.

Then the Spartans have a string of five road games before returning home on Jan. 5 against Little East foe Western Connecticut.

NOTES: Castleton assistant coach Dave Kinsman called this year’s Middlebury team the best Middlebury team he has seen. .... BFA-Fairfax’s Klaire Ware is Plymouth’s only Vermont player.

tom.haley

@rutlandherald.com

Follow Tom on Twitter: @RHSportsGuy

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