CASTLETON, Vt. – The Norwich University women's basketball team kicked off the regular season with a close 60-52 loss to Castleton University on Saturday at Glenbrook Gym.
The Spartans opened the year with a 1-0 mark, while Norwich fell to 0-1 after each team's opening day contest. Norwich shot 36.7 percent from the field and knocked down five three-pointers. The Cadets shot just four foul shots on the day in comparison to the 22 attempts at the line for the host Spartans.
Opening day jitters combined with pressure from Castleton's defense led to 23 turnovers for the Cadets. The Spartans converted those turnovers into 22 points on the other end of the floor. Both teams scored 18 points in the paint. Norwich benefitted greatly from its bench depth which helped contribute 22 points on the afternoon.
Norwich was paced by sophomore guard Sandra Carlsten (Bandhagen, Sweden) who came off the bench to pour in a team-leading 13 points on 6-of-13 makes from the field, Junior guard Riley Bennett (Hopkinton, N.H.) and senior forward KristieAnn DeSilvio (Chelmsford, Mass.) added 10 points apiece. Junior forwards Caileigh Travers (Valley Cottage, N.Y.) and Kailynne Frederick (Adams, Mass.) each grabbed eight rebounds while and Carlsten and Bennett both had four assists for the Cadets.
The Cadets stymied Castleton's leading scorer Brooke Raiche, who was also the Little East's second-leading scorer in 2018-19, holding her to just 12 points on 3-of-11 shooting from the floor.
Alexis Quenneville and Elise Magro led all scorers with 17 points apiece. Katlyn Toomey led the way on the glass with a game-high 11 boards.
Norwich struggled offensively to start the game turning over the ball on its first two possessions and missing on its first attempt before junior guard Julia Vigorito (Malden, Mass.) knocked down a jumper at the 7:56 mark to give the Cadets their first basket of the 2019-20 season. Castleton conversely, was able to jump out to an early 19-7 lead in the contest thanks to makes on 9 of its first 13 shots. The hosts carried over that early lead into the second quarter remaining on top, 24-13.
The Cadets found their legs and shots in the second stanza as the team made 8-of-15 from the floor to outscore Castleton 17-12. At the midway point of the second quarter, Castleton's lead had extended to 32-18 when Carlsten's influence on the game began to take hold. The sophomore made three consecutive buckets down the stretch to help Norwich close the gap to just six points at the break, 36-30. She had a hand in every basket except one in the quarter totaling 10 points, a pair of assists and a steal.
Norwich opened the second half on a 7-1 run, tying the game at 37-37 three minutes in on a layup by Frederick. A free throw by Magro with 5:30 to play in the quarter re-established Castleton's lead while a pair of free throws by Raiche helped grow the advantage to 42-37 late in the quarter and give Castleton a 46-39 lead heading into the final 10 minutes. DeSilvio notched four of the Cadets' nine third-quarter points.
A layup by DeSilvio and a jumper from Carlsten cut the hosts' lead to 46-43 with 7:48 remaining in the game. The Cadets defense held the Spartans scoreless through the first three and a half minutes of the period. However, Castleton's guard play from Magro and Quenneville sparked a 12-2 run that pushed the home side ahead by 13, 58-45. The Cadets would not go quietly, as a pair of quick baskets pulled Norwich back within eight, 58-50, with two minutes to play. A jumper by Magro put Castleton ahead 60-50 with just 42 seconds left before a Bennett jumper gave the game its final score, 60-52.
Norwich hits the road again Tuesday to face New England College with tip-off time slated for 5:30 p.m