The Middlebury women’s basketball team split a pair of home games last week in Pepin Gymnasium. The Panthers began the week Wednesday with a 59-52 loss to Castleton, as the Spartans outscored host Middlebury 25-18 in the fourth quarter, including 13-6 over the final 3:41 for the win. Middlebury jumped back into NESCAC play Saturday, outscoring Hamilton by a 13-3 count in overtime to earn a 75-65 win.
On Wednesday, Castleton grabbed a 6-5 lead on a free throw from Ali Jones with 6:16 left in the opening quarter. Middlebury answered with the next six points on two charity tosses and a layup from rookie Catherine Harrison (Duxbury, Mass.), followed by a layup by sophomore Eileen Daley (Hanover, N.H.), for an 11-6 advantage with 3:41 left. A three-pointer from Castleton’s Lindsay Sabo and a layup from Harrison concluded the low-scoring quarter with the Panthers in front, 13-9.
Castleton started the second quarter with the first eight points on four points from Jade Desroches and baskets by Morgan Raiche and Taylor Raiche for a 17-13 advantage with 6:07 left. The teams traded buckets over the final minutes of the second stanza, as a jumper by Middlebury sophomore Sarah Kaufman (Boulder, Colo.) pulled the hosts to within one, 21-20, at the halftime break.
Out of the intermission, five quick points by Bryanna duPont gave the Spartans some breathing room at 26-20. Sophomore Rachel Collins (Bedford, N.H.) knocked down a three-pointer on Middlebury’s ensuing possession, but a jumper from duPont and layup by Amanda Beatty pushed the Castleton lead back to seven. A little less than three minutes later, Makayla Farrara gave the visitors a 32-25 edge on a pair of free throws with 4:40 left. Middlebury ended the quarter on a 9-2 run, including a pair of layups from rookie Alex Huffman (Lynn, Mass.), knotting the score at 34-34 headed to the final 10 minutes.
Harrison put the Panthers ahead on their opening possession of the fourth on an assist by Huffman, but Castleton tallied six points with layups on its next three trips down the floor for a 40-36 edge. The Panthers chipped away at the Spartan lead, eventually tying the contest at 46-46 with 3:41 on the clock when Kaufman hit two free throws. The Spartans rattled off the decisive spurt, including a three from the left wing by Sabo that sealed the win with 16 ticks left.
The Panthers were paced by Harrison with her ninth double-double of the season consisting of 13 points and a career-best 20 rebounds, while Kaufman finished with 11 points and four assists. Collins also ended in double figures with 10, while Huffman scored nine points and grabbed six boards off the bench.
Castleton was led by a game-high 19 points from duPont to go with seven rebounds, while Farrara chipped in with 12. Sabo ended her night with nine points, all on threes, along with a game-best five helpers.
In Saturday’s thriller, the Panthers took the initial lead of the game, as Harrison connected twice from the paint as the hosts led 4-1. Hamilton took its first lead of the game at 8-6, on a three-pointer by Lauren Getman 3:54 into the game. The Panthers tied things up at 10-10 on a jumper by Collins, with the visitors taking a 12-10 lead at the end of the quarter a field goal by Caroline Barrett.
The teams went back-and-forth in the second quarter, as Middlebury took its biggest advantage with 5:32 (24-19) on the clock, when Kaufman drained a three-pointer. The Continentals used an 11-4 run to close out the half, holding a 30-28 lead at the break.
The game stayed tight in the third quarter with Hamilton taking a 40-35 lead on a three-pointer by Barrett with 4:04 left. A jumper by Collins and two layups by rookie Colleen Caveney (Andover, Mass.) put the Panthers back in front in the final minute. Kate Bushell made a jump shot with 23 seconds left, as Hamilton held a 42-41 at the end of the quarter.
The Panthers led by as many as five points (58-53) in the fourth quarter, with the scoring picking up in the final minute. Getman hit a jumper for the Continentals to close the game to one (58-57) with 56 seconds left, but a put-back on an offensive rebound by Harrison extended the margin back to three. Hamilton’s Sam Graber and Collins traded baskets seconds apart with the latter of those coming with 18 ticks left on the clock. The Continentals quickly got the ball up the court and Carly Gruenburg hit a trey with six seconds left to force tied at 62-62.
In the extra session, the Panthers scored five of the first six points to take the lead for good. Harrison scored to put Middlebury in front 65-63 (2:54) and Caveney followed with two free throws, while Daley added another. After a basket by Hamilton, the Panthers scored the game’s final seven points, five of them coming from the charity stripe.
Caveney netted a career-high 19 points and had four steals for Middlebury, while Harrison recorded her 10th double-double of the season with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Collins added 12 points, with Kaufman and Huffman each adding 11. Daley just missed a double-double with nine points and 12 boards.
Graber had a big game for Hamilton with 22 points and 12 rebounds, while Getman added 19. Barrett led all players with seven assists.
• Women’s basketball record: 11-7
• Up Next: 2/2 at Keene State – 5:30 p.m., 2/5 at Colby – 7:00 p.m., 2/6 at Bowdoin – 3:00 p.m.