The St. Thomas Aquinas College men's basketball team rallied from a halftime deficit to a 78-64 East Coast Conference victory over Mercy College in a game played at Nyack College. The Spartans have now won eight of their last nine overall, improving to 21-5 while their 12-2 ECC record has assured them of at least a top four seed in the upcoming conference tournament. Mercy dropped to 9-15, 5-9, still well within position to grab a post-season berth.
James Mitchell opened the scoring with a pair of hoops, Shaq McFarlan added a three-pointer, and Jamar Sudan scored as the Spartans held a 9-0 lead over five and a half minutes into play. Mercy rallied, however, with Dequawne Richards scoring five straight points in a 13-4 answer, and Marko Kozul's layup tying the score at 11:04. After an exchange of leads, Matthew Alectus caught fire from deep, hitting a trio of treys as the Mavericks closed the half with an 18-7 burst to take a 36-28 advantage into the break.
Kelvin Howard's three extended the hosts' margin to 39-28 two minutes into the second half, but STAC's defense held the Mavericks off the board for nearly four minutes as Jamar Sudan's jumper capped a 10-0 burst to give the Spartans a 43-42 lead. As was the case in the first half, the teams traded leads but the visitors' swarming defense led to a decisive 13-2 run, opening a 58-49 advantage with 7:45 to go.
Richards scored eight straight Mercy points down the stretch, but the Spartans spread the wealth as a balanced attack allowed them to pull away in the final minutes. Mitchell and McFarlan led four STAC players in double-figures with 19 each, Justin Reyes added 18 points and a game-high 13 rebounds, and Sudan came off the bench to score 10. Richards led the way for the Mavericks, tying for game-high with 19 points.
The Spartans play three of their final four regular-season games at home starting with the first-place showdown against the University of Bridgeport this Saturday, February 10. Double-header action at Aquinas Hall starts with the women's teams squaring off at 1:00 pm, with the men's game to follow at approximately 3:00 pm.