The St. Thomas Aquinas College men's basketball team, ranked #5 in the nation, pulled away late for a 107-88 triumph over New York Institute of Technology in East Coast Conference action. The Spartans remain perfect at 9-0 overall and 4-0 in ECC play, with NYIT dropping to 2-5, 1-2. STAC has also won 27 consecutive regular season games and 25 against conference foes.
Perimeter shooting was the early story, as Jon Lawton and James Mitchell fired from three point range, lifting the Spartans to an early 27-15 edge at the 11:40 mark. Jon Feiler kept the Bears in the game with a strong effort as the deficit was trimmed to as little as seven points, but STAC's torrid 10-of-13 (77%) from beyond the arc opened a 54-45 halftime lead.
NYIT quickly saw the deficit swell to 64-45 on a Chaz Watler jumper, but Tech was not done yet, slicing the gap to 78-68 and Henrik Davidson's bucket midway through the half. STAC's defense shut it down from there, holding the visitors to just one point in a four minute span, as the Spartans opened a 90-71 chasm, more than enough to secure the win.
Justin Reyes led a balance onslaught for STAC with 21 points and 16 rebounds, with Watler adding 20, Lawton with 19, and Mitchell with 18. Feiler was a standout for NYIT with a game-high 33 points and 14 rebounds. The Spartans shot an impressive 58% from the field (40-69) and drained 13 threes in earning the win.
With St. Thomas Aquinas ranked #5 in both weekly national polls, the NABC (National Association of Basketball Coaches) and D2SIDA (Division II Sports Information Directors' Association), this week's rankings, which will be released Tuesday afternoon, could bear more good news with losses this week from #3 California Baptist and #1 Saganaw Valley State.
The Spartans return to action on Thursday, December 15, for a big ECC showdown against the University of Bridgeport. The game will be following the women's contest starting at 5:30, with men's start at approximately 7:30.