MIDDLEBURY — Castleton University women’s basketball player Elise Magro, the only female to reach the 1.000-point standard at Rutland High, eclipsed the 800-point milestone in Tuesday’s loss to Middlebury College
But this evening was wrapped in Middlebury blue and white as the Panthers blew Castleton right out of Pepin Gym in the second quarter, with the Panthers winning 73-51.
Alexa Mustafaj scored 15 of her 28 points during that second quarter.
The Spartans were playing well in the opening period and were locked in a 19-19 tie when it was over.
Then came those next 10 minutes — a disaster for Castleton. The Panthers outscored the Spartans 21-5 during the stanza.
Sure, Mustafaj, the sophomore guard was on fire, but Middlebury coach KJ Krasco felt it was the defense and rebounding that ignited her team during that quarter.
“It really started on the defensive side of the ball and we finally started boxing out,” Krasco said.
Krasco was pleased with the way the Panthers ratcheted up the defensive intensity but she knows that there is still a lot of work to be done before they get into the NESCAC portion of the schedule.
“We are still very young and making a lot of mistakes. We need to get better,” she said.
“It was nice to see us execute a game plan against an opponent.”
The Spartans started out 4-0 but have lost consecutive games to Northern Vermont-Johnson and Middlebury.
The Panthers improved to 3-2.
Mustafaj played only 28 minutes but still came only two points shy of her career high of 30.
The Spartans looked to be in control when post player Elizabeth Bailey’s putback gave them a 12-6 lead.
After those first 10 minutes with the score deadlocked at, it appeared a classic game might be in the offing.
That script got torn up in a hurry. When Mustafaj canned a 3-point field goal, it put the Panthers in front 24-20 and when she hit another trey minutes later it bumped the lead to 36-22. The complexion of the game had changed dramatically and the Panthers rolled to a 40-24 halftime lead.
Last year in Castleton’s cozy Glenbrook Gym, the Spartans defeated Middlebury with a stirring second half comeback.
That memory gave some Spartan fans hope but there would be no comeback heroics this night as the Panthers kept their intensity level up while playing 14 different players.
The Spartans, on the other hand, only dressed 10 players.
Gabby Stuart joined Mustafaj in double figures with 14 points and nine Panthers scored.
Bailey led the Spartans with 11 points. She had eight of those in the first quarter helping Castleton to get off to that strong start.
Magro, who entered this game with 796 points, added nine to that number and grabbed five rebounds.
Emily Adams, a freshman from Enosburg, continued to brand herself as a Spartan to watch. She had seven points and four rebounds.
Proctor’s Maggie McKearin, a freshman who got a late start due to playing soccer for the Spartans, knocked down a 3-point field goal.
Middlebury swings back into action on Nov. 29 with a visit to NVU-Lyndon’s Stannard Gymnasium.
Castleton hosts Colby-Sawyer on Nov. 30.