The St. Thomas Aquinas College men's basketball team is in search of its third straight East Coast Conference Tournament Championship, squaring off with the University of Bridgeport on Sunday at 2:30 pm at Voller Athletic Center in Rochester, NY. The finale marks the fifth consecutive trip to the finals for the Spartans, while Bridgeport makes its ninth appearance in search of its fifth ECC tournament crown.
How They Got Here - Bridgeport (25-4) entered the weekend as the Regular-Season Champs and held off a challenge from the feisty #5 seeded Molloy College Lions in a 79-69 win. Bakary Camara hit three straight big field goals in the second half as part of his team-high 16 points for the Purple Knights, while Curtis Jenkins led all scorers with 20 for the Lions.
STAC (25-6) took the #2 seed into their showdown with #3 Daemen, and the matchup lived up to its billing as the Spartans utilized a second-half run to open up a tight affair. Three-time ECC Player of the Year Justin Reyes led all scorers with 17 points, with Jamar Sudan and James Mitchell adding 12 each. Jeff Redband was the lead producer for the Wildcats with 14.
The Match-up - The Spartans dropped both ends of the regular season series against Bridgeport, with the Purple Knights taking a 73-57 decision at Hubbell Gym on January 6 before completing the sweep with a 74-65 win at Aquinas Hall on February 10.
Players to Watch - In addition to Reyes earning ECC First Team kudos, McFarlan and Mitchell were both named to the Second Team for STAC. Bridgeport's Sam Joseph was named to the First Team, with teammates Sharif Cobb and D'Vonne Trumbo taking home Second Team selections for the balanced Purple Knights.
NCAA Bound? - St. Thomas Aquinas is in search of its third straight trip to the NCAA Division II Tournament, looking to defend its East Region Championship of a year ago. The ECC Tournament Champion receives an automatic berth to the NCAAs, with with Bridgeport and STAC ranked #2 and #3 respectively in the most recent NCAA rankings, both are virtually assured of a slot in the national tourney regardless of Sunday's outcome. Location, dates and pairings for the NCAA Tournament are to be determined on Sunday night.