Preview: #2 Seed Spartans Start ECC Tourney Defense vs. #3 Daemen on Saturday

Preview: #2 Seed Spartans Start ECC Tourney Defense vs. #3 Daemen on Saturday

The St. Thomas Aquinas College men's basketball team carries the #2 seed into Saturday's East Coast Conference Men's Basketball Tournament semi-finals, where they will meet #3 seed Daemen College the third straight post-season battle between the two teams. Tip-off is set for 7:30 pm at Voller Athletic Center at Roberts Wesleyan College.

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Spartans in the ECC Tourney - St. Thomas Aquinas has captured the last two ECC Tournament Championships and the Spartans are making their fifth appearance in as many years, having advanced to the finals each of the previous four seasons.

The Match-up - The Spartans (24-6, 15-3) will meet #3 Daemen (22-7, 15-3), which advanced via Wednesday night's 75-69 victory over Roberts Wesleyan College in Amherst, NY. Jay Sarkis led four Wildcats in double-figures with 18 points, with Breon Harris adding 16.

In fact, Damen has faced STAC in ECC Tourney play in each of the past two seasons, with the Spartans taking their first conference crown in an 80-63 in 2016, and St. Thomas Aquinas prevailing by an 85-66 count in last season's semis.

The teams split the regular season series with each claiming victory on the other's home court. On December 8, the Spartans invaded Lumsden Gym and rode a second-half surge to an 83-73 win with Justin Reyes pouring in 26 points to 23 for Daemen's Deion Hamilton.

Daemen gained revenge on February 2 with a 73-66 decision at Aquinas Hall, rallying from a halftime deficit for the win. Darius Garvin and Jeff Redband posted 15 points each for the Wildcats, with Reyes leading all scorers with 20 for STAC.

What's Next? - Semi-final action will commence with #1 Bridgeport taking on #4 Molloy in a 5:00 tip. The winner of that game will face the winner of STAC-Daemen on Sunday at 2:30 pm for the ECC Championship. For Full ECC Tournament Schedule and Information, Click Here.

NCAA Bound? - St. Thomas Aquinas is in search of its third trip to the NCAA Division II Tournament in as many seasons, having captured the East Region Championship a year ago. The ECC Tournament Champion receives an automatic berth to the NCAAs, and the Spartans' current #3 regional ranking leaves them in excellent position for an at-large bid should they not take the title. Location, dates and pairings for the NCAA Tournament are to be determined on Sunday night.