The St. Thomas Aquinas College men's basketball team rode six scorers in double-figures to a 103-89 East Coast Conference victory over Molloy College at Aquinas Hall. The Spartans have now won five straight to improve to 15-4 overall, and combined with Daemen's win over the University of the District of Columbia, STAC is in sole possession of first place with an 8-2 ECC record. Molloy dropped to 10-9, 6-4.
After nearly two scoreless minutes of play, Jon Lawton's three gave the Spartans an early lead, and a Justin Reyes lay-up and another from deep by Lawton made the score 8-0 four minutes into the game. Fouls took their toll over the latter stages of the first half, with Lawton, Reyes, and Chaz Watler each in trouble for the hosts, and Jaylen Morris also in difficulties for Molloy.
James Mitchell came off the bench to score five straight and give the Spartans a 30-19 advantage with eight minutes left in the half, and STAC carried a 44-32 lead through the halftime break.
Points were not hard to come by as both teams lit up the board after the intermission. Shaw McFarlan's three-point play and five straight by Chaz Watler keyed a 10-0 STAC outburst, opening a 61-41 gap just over four minutes into the second stanza. With ample time left, the Lions held tough until a 15-2 run closed the deficit to 78-73 after a Josh Dennis lay-up with 6:44 left.
A quick exchange of baskets was followed by an emphatic Reyes dunk, however, and four Lawton free throws were part of a 10-2 answer, reestablishing some breathing room at 88-77. Morris briefly cut the gap to 90-84 with three minutes left, but once again the STAC attack was on the spot to put away the victory.
Watler led the Spartans with 21 points, with Lawton (18), Mitchell (17), Reyes (12), McFarlan (11), and Aaron Cust (10) contributing to the balance onslaught. Morris and Curtis Jenkins set the tone for Molloy, tying for game-high with 22 points each. STAC held a 32-21 rebounding advantage and shot an impressive 61% (37-for-61) from the field on the afternoon.
The Spartans return to action on Wednesday, January 25, traveling to face Roberts Wesleyan College in an ECC contest. They then travel to meet NYIT on Saturday, January 28, before returning to Aquinas Hall to host LIU Post on Wednesday, February 1, at 7:30 pm.