WATERVILLE, Maine --- Thomas College shot 55.8 percent from the field and held a dominating 45-26 advantage on the boards en route to a 83-65 win over Castleton University in a North Atlantic Conference (NAC) men's basketball tournament quarterfinal at Larry Mahaney Gymnasium.
The fourth-seeded Terriers (14-12) got off to a slow start, spotting the Spartans a 5-0 lead before rallying with seven straight points and taking the lead on an Adam Carlsen (Rockport, Maine / Camden Hills3-pointer at the 16:18 mark.
The teams traded the lead back and forth over the next 4:38 before Levi Barnes (Skowhegan, Maine / Skowhegan Area) drained a trey of his own to give Thomas a lead they would not relinquish at 15-12 with 11:30 to play. Tondi Mushandu drew Castleton within a point at 17-16 with 10:29 to play but the Terriers responded by embarking on an 21-3 run over the next 6:15 to take a 38-19 lead with 4:14 to play. Carlsen capped the run with three straight 3-pointers.
Castleton would counter with 3-pointers from Casey McGraw and Edmund Fitzgerald but could not make a significant run and Thomas took a 47-29 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Spartans started quickly in the second half, scoring 10 straight points to cut the lead to eight with 17:31 to play. Castleton would get as close as six at the 9:06 mark when McGraw drained 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to make it 57-51, but Thomas responded with six straight points to get the lead back to double-digits.
A steal and dunk by Tyheem Simon (Far Rockaway, N.Y. / Lawrence) with 6:04 to play gave Thomas a 67-53 lead and gave the Terriers energy for a final run to put the game out of reach. Castleton's Rob Coloutti hit a three to cut the lead to 11, but Justin Murray (Winslow, Maine / Winslow) and Mike Akanji (Lincoln, R.I. / Lincoln) drained back-to-back threes to push the advantage to 17 as the clock ticked inside the 5:00 mark.
The Spartans' Joshua Horton drained a pair of treys down the stretch but Barnes made four tree throws and Dayne Savage (Caribou, Maine / Caribou) and Willie Grant (Philadelphia, Pa. / Paul Robeson) each added layups to counter for Thomas.
Thomas finished the game shooting 55.8 percent (29-of-52) from the field and 48.1 percent (13-of-27) from 3-point range. The Terriers' 45-26 advantage on the boards was built on the defensive end where they had a 39-19 advantage.
Levi Barnes finished with a game-high 26 points on 7-of-12 shooting. He also drained four 3-pointers and was a perfect 8-for-8 at the charity stripe. Adam Carlsen and Dayne Savage added 14 points apiece. Mike Akanji filled the stat sheet with five points, a game-high 11 rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks, while Carlos Gonzalez (Kennebunk, Maine / Lewiston) added 10 boards and five points.
Ian King (Westbrook, Maine / Hebron Academy) was held scoreless, but dished out seven assists and had three steals, while Tyheem Simon added seven points, four rebounds, two steals and an assist.
Three Spartans finished in double-figures led by Casey McGraw's 17. McGraw was 6-of-7 from the field and 5-of-6 from behind the arc. He also had three assists. Tondi Mushandu had 11 points and five rebounds and Edmund Fitzgerald had 12 points, four rebounds and two assists off the bench.
Thomas will now face top-seeded Husson (19-6) at 6 p.m. Friday in Bangor.