Castleton, VT – The Husson men's basketball team was able to rebound from a number of double-digit defecits, but narrowly dropped the North Atlantic Contest 97-96 to the Castleton State Spartans at Glenbrook Gymnasium on Friday evening.
Trailing 97-93, Daeshawn McMorrin (Naugatuck, CT) grabbed a loose ball, stepped behind the three-point line and threw up a deparation shot that swished through with two seconds left. That's when the controversy ensued. Castleton passed the ball between inbounders and Junior Mark Comstock (Rutland, VT) was fouled immediately on the inbound as the clock had seemingly expired. The officials conferred and decided to put 1.5 seconds back on the clock and sent Comstock to the line for two. After missing the first free throw, his attempt to purposely miss the second shot failed to hit the rim, resulting in a violation. The Eagles inbounded the ball towards midcourt, where Comstock was able to knock it away as the time expired.
The loss snapped a 13-game winning streak against Castleton and was the Spartans' first victory over the Eagles since they joined the North Atlantic Conference prior to the 2003-04 season. Husson falls to 1-5 and 1-1 in conference action. Castleton improves to 2-1 in NAC play with the victory and 3-4 overall.
McMorrin was one of five players in double figures with 20 points and also added a team-high six assists. Big man Marc Zaharchuck (Richmond, ME) was nearly unstoppable inside, finishing with 18 rebounds and 28 points for the Eagles.
The Spartans' pressure defense caused problems for the Eagles, forcing 25 turnovers and recording 14 steals, with four coming from sophomore Tyler Ackley (Scotia, NY).They also held their visitors to just 4-for-12 shooting from behind the arc.
Comstock displayed his versatility on Friday, scoring 20 points and adding nine rebounds, five assists and a pair of steals. Senior Greg Hughes (West Rutland, VT) also scored 20, and added three assists and two steals. Sophomore Matt Cooney (Washingtonville, NY) dropped in 12 points off the bench while Keith Schneider (Fair Haven, VT) added ten.
The first half was back and forth as neither team could take a leader greater than five for the first 12 minutes. However, a jump shot by Hughes with just over eight minutes left made it 36-29 and the Spartans maintained their advanced until an 8-0 run by Husson put them in front 48-47 with just 2:29 in the half. The two teams traded baskets the rest of the way and went into the break with the visitors holding the slight 53-31 lead.
Three minutes into the second Castleton was trailing 59-53, however a Dammy Mustapha (Bellows Falls, Vt.) three sparked a vicious run. The Spartans scored 12 unanswered points over a three-minute span to grab 65-59 advantage. They slowly pushed their lead as high as 16 with 8:30 remaining. However, Husson came back, closing within two at 92-90, with just 1:39 left. The Spartans held on and made just enough free throws to finish with the victory.
Husson returns to action on Saturday with a bout against Green Mountain. Castleton returns to the court on Saturday at 1 p.m. as the Spartans take on Maine Maritime, who beat Green Mountain 65-55 on Friday.