Middlebury clamped down in the second half on the defensive end, limiting visiting Castleton to just 13 percent (3-23) on its way to a 63-39 victory Tuesday in Pepin Gym. Sarah Kaufman scored nine points in the win for the hosts, becoming the ninth player in the program's history to surpass the 1,000-career point plateau with 1,001. The Panthers (12-2) return to action on Friday when they travel to Bates for a 7:00 p.m. contest, while Castleton (10-2) hosts Johnson State on Saturday at 1:00 p.m.
The Spartans jumped out to a 7-3 lead on a pair of free throws by Makayla Farrara with 6:32 left in the opening quarter. After Middlebury pulled even at 7-7, Castleton scored five quick points on a layup from Emilee Bose and a three-point field goal by Brooke Raiche. The hosts tallied the final five points of the stanza, including a buzzer-beating layup from Kira Waldman, knotting the contest at 12-12.
Middlebury scored the first seven points of the second quarter, grabbing a 19-12 lead on a bucket from Betsy Knox with 8:28 left. Castleton cut the deficit to five (21-16) on a layup from Ashlie Fay a little less than two minutes later, but the Panthers tallied 10 of the next 15 points for a 31-21 advantage on a pair of free throws by Catherine Harrison at the 3:52 mark. Middlebury took an eight-point edge (33-25) into the halftime break on a pair of charity tosses by Maya Davis.
The Panthers outscored Castleton by a 14-5 count in the third quarter, holding the visitors to 0-11 from the floor, forcing seven turnovers and giving up five free throws (5-6). Lily Kuntz capped the stanza for the Panthers with a put-back layup as the buzzer sounded, increasing their lead to 47-30.
Middlebury was never challenged in the final quarter, as Kaufman's career milestone came on a three from the right corner with 6:09 left, and cruised to the win.
Davis paced 11 Middlebury players in the scoring column with 13 points to go along with eight boards, while Knox added 10 points and three steals. Kaufman chipped in with three assists in addition to her nine points, while Sabrina Weeks had seven points and four rebounds.
Raiche paced the Spartans with nine points and seven rebounds, while Farrara and Bose each scored seven points.
Middlebury held advantages in points in the paint (34-12), points off turnovers (23-9) and second-chance points (13-3) in the victory. The Panthers limited Castleton to just 23.9 percent (11-46) from the floor in the triumph.