Visiting Castleton outscored host Middlebury 25-18 in the fourth quarter, including 13-6 over the final 3:41, on its way to a 59-52 victory Wednesday evening in Pepin Gymnasium. The Spartans knocked down 4-5 shots during the decisive stretch with a pair of three-point field goals, as well as making 3-4 attempts at the free throw line. The Panthers (10-7) return to NESCAC play when they host Hamilton on Saturday at 3:00 p.m., while Castleton (13-4) entertains Green Mountain on the same day at 1:00 p.m.
The Spartans 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 Catherine Harrison, followed by a layup by Eileen Daley, 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's Sarah Kaufman 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. Rachel Collins 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 Alex Huffman, 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.