VTSU Castleton's Kathryn Moore readies to take a shot during Tuesday's game against Plymouth State in Castleton.

CASTLETON — Plymouth State's Bri Wilcox has been around the basketball block and it showed on Tuesday night in the Panthers' 67-66 victory over Vermont State University Castleton in Little East Conference women's action..

Wilcox made her shots at the most critical times in a game that was tight all the way.

She began her basketball journey as a Division I player at the University of New Hampshire before playing at Rivier University in Nashua, New Hampshire.

She is pretty happy she landed at Plymouth and much of her confidence comes from her new basketball family.

"This team builds me up. I have got a great support system here," Wilcox said.

Castleton took a 46-45 lead into the fourth quarter but the Panthers' Ashley Stephens got two quick hoops and with 7:10 remaining Wilcox sank a 3-point field goal to give Plymouth a 52-46 lead.

If there were someone for Castleton as clutch as Wilcox, you could make a case for Rutland's Kathryn Moore.

She made a 3-pointer to draw the Spartans within 52-29 with 6:12 remaining.

That compelled Plymouth coach Curtis Arsenault to call a timeout and during the break there was a heated discussion about whether Stephens had three or four personal fouls.

It was ruled that she had three and Castleton coach Kathleen Payne let it be known after the game that she was none too happy about that situation.

Wilcox gave the Panthers some breathing room with a layup to cushion Plymouth's lead to five with 5:55 left.

Moore continued her big-play heroics, nailing a 3-pointer with 4:22 left to cut the margin to 55-53.

Then, came a 3-pointer from Elise Magro, who led the Spartans with 20 points, that put Castleton in front 58-57 with just over three minutes remaining.

Who should come to the fore for the Panthers? Wilcox, of course. Her hoop with 2:10 to go gave the Plymouth the lead.

Eight seconds later, Moore canned two free throws to put Castleton back in front.

Hailey Malozzi drove hard to the hoop to put Plymouth back in front, 61-60, with 1:50 remaining and that was the lead the Panthers never surrendered.

Wilcox padded the lead by scoring on a rebound, making it 65-60 with 41 ticks left on the clock.

Castleton's Elizabeth Bailey's inside hoop made it a one-possession game (65-62) with 31.9 seconds left.

Magro had the ball and appeared to be thinking about a long 3 for the tie. Instead, she put the ball on the floor and drove for a bucket that made it a one-point game with 10 seconds remaining.

A couple of free throws gave the Panthers a 67-64 lead and Magro scored on a putback for the final points of the game.

It was a pivotal game in the Little East Conference standings for it raised the Panthers' record to 2-2 and dropped the Spartans to 1-4. The top six teams make the LEC playoffs and while itis early, right now VTSU Castleton would be on the outside looking in, the Panthers among the top six.

Payne let VTSU Castleton Sports Information Director Tom Blake know in the hallway after the game that she was very displeased with the bookkeeping that led to the controversy about the number of fouls on Stephens.

Each Little East game grows in importance for the Spartans and the next one is a road test against Eastern Connecticut on Thursday.

Castleton's overall mark is 7-7 and the Panthers go to 6-5.

Magro not only led the Spartans in scoring but also had a stellar floor game with four steals and a couple of assists. She pulled down seven rebounds.

Bailey had 14 points, five rebounds and two blocked shots and Moore had four rebounds and four assists to go with her 11 points. Stasia Epler was another major contributor for the Spartans with nine points and six rebounds.

Leading Plymouth in scoring was Lea Compton with 18 points. Joining her in double figures were Wilcox with 14 and Ali Ingalls who had 12 before fouling out.

This was the first time that Plymouth has won in Castleton's Glenbrook Gym since Castleton joined the Little East in 2018.

The Spartans will look to get back on track against Eastern Connecticut after starting 2024 0-3.