The St. Thomas Aquinas College men's basketball team lost its first regional contest of the season, dropping a tough 75-73 decision at Stonehill College. The Spartans, ranked #22 in the nation, dropped to 5-3 while Stonehill got a sorely-needed win to improve to 2-4.
James Mitchell opened the scoring with a pair of threes, and the Spartans bolted to a 10-2 lead before the hosts rallied with a 14-0 run to take a six-point advantage. Kameron Murrell, returning from an injury, answered with a trey and Justin Reyes added a pair off hoops, setting the stage for a back-and-forth first half that ended with STAC holding a 39-35 advantage.
Stonehill created some separation at 59-52 on an Isaiah Bess three pointer with 11:18 left, but Zachary Rzwenicki's hoop cut the margin to 59-56 at the midway point. The turning point came for the Skyhawks when Owen De Graaf hit a pair of threes as part of a 10-0 run, with the 13 points lead being the biggest of the contest with under six minutes left.
Murrell jump-started the Spartans with a pair of threes, Dan Largey answered with a lay-up for the hosts, and Rzwenicki hit a three to make the tally 71-65 with 3:05 left. Reyes hit from in close, added two free throws and scored again to draw the Spartans even at 71-71 with 1:07 left. De Graaf answered, as his three with the shot clock winding down proved to be the winning bucket with 38 seconds left.
Reyes made another pair from the line and STAC forced a turnover, but Reyes' shot for the lead was off the mark with nine seconds to go. Bess hit a foul shot and Mitchell's desperation shot for the win was off at the buzzer, sending the visitors to a two-point defeat.
Three Spartans hit for double-figures with Reyes recording game-highs of 24 points and 10 rebounds, Murrell chipping in 15 off the bench, and Mitchell adding 11. Bess and de Graaf set the pace for the Skyhawks with 15 each, combining for seven three-pointers.
The tough road for the Spartans continues Wednesday night with a trip to Bloomfield College, with a return to Aquinas Hall to face the region's top ranked squad from LeMoyne College on Tuesday, December 5.