The St. Thomas Aquinas College men's basketball team rode a 17-point halftime lead to a 77-64 East Coast Conference triumph at LIU Post. The Spartans, ranked #3 in this week's NCAA East Region poll, are now 23-6 on the season and remain in 2nd place in the ECC with a 14-3 record. With the loss, LIU Post fell to 10-16, 8-8.
Though the Pioneers jumped out to an early 9-4 lead on a Jared Rivers three-pointer, Justin Reyes hit a pair from the line to cap an 8-2 STAC run, giving the visitors a 12-11 edge. Darien Jenkins put LIU Post back on top at 18-16 midway through the half, but Zachary Rzwenecki and Shaq McFarlan nailed treys in a 14-2 Spartan outburst, opening a 32-22 gap. McFarlan added two more from deep range and Chris Atkinson closed the first half in similar fashion, as the visitors opened up a 43-26 margin.
After an early exchange of field goals, Rivers and Aary Bibens each hit for three in a 10-0 answer from the hosts, closing the gap to 49-42 with 14:09 left. That was as close as it was to get, however, as Atkinson hit another trey in a 9-2 STAC outburst, to reestablish a cushion at 60-46. One final push brought LIU Post to within 71-64 with 1:22 remaining, but that was the last the hosts would score for the evening.
Mitchell scored 17 points and Reyes added 17 points and 11 rebounds to set the tone for STAC. Atkinson added 13 and Jamar Sudan scored 10 for St. Thomas Aquinas. Rivers scored 17 for the Pioneers to tie for the game high, with Kyle McLeggan adding 12. The Spartans turned the ball over just eight times in the game, while forcing their opponents into 15.
The Spartans are off until Saturday, February 24, when they close out the regular-season by hosting the University of the District of Columbia at Aquinas Hall. Senior Day festivities will be held before the approximately 3:00 pm tip, after the conclusion of the women's contest at 1:00. The Spartans have clinched a berth in the ECC Tournament and will either host a first ground game on Wednesday, February 28 at Aquinas Hall, or earn a bye to the semi-finals at Roberts Wesleyan on Saturday, March 2. Opponents and times are to be determined.