The St. Thomas Aquinas College men's basketball team rallied late before falling to Findlay, 69-65, as the Hall of Fame Classic in Evansville, Indiana. The Spartans end the weekend at 0-2 after a pair of tough losses to nationally-ranked opponents, while Findlay improved to 2-0.
STAC held the lead in the early minutes of the contest but Findlay gained the momentum in taking a 32-25 lead at halftime, with the Spartans drawing closer on a pair of Reyes hoops in the final minute of the half. The Oilers began to pull away, holding a commanding 55-34 lead with under 12 minutes to play, and what appeared to be a comfortable 64-48 gap with just under five minutes to go.
Reyes scored five points in a 6-0 STAC run, with a three-point play closing to 64-54 with 3:23 left. After Findlay's Taren Sullivan answered with a lay-up, Reyes hit a jumper and added 1-of-2 from the line, and another three-point play drew to a respectable 68-60 with 1:09 left. But the Spartans were not done yet.
Frantic pressure forced a steal by Shaq McFarlan, and Irwayne Connell's hoop made it a two-possession game at 68-62 with 1:02 on the clock. A pair of missed free throws opened the door, and James Mitchell drained a three to draw to 68-65 with 25 seconds to play. STAC elected not to foul and that paid off when Reyes came up with a steal, but a quick turnover by Jamar Sudan denied the Spartans a chance at a game-tying shot, as Sullivan made one of two from the line to seal the final.
With his 38 points and eight rebounds. Preseason All-American Reyes put up stunning numbers for the weekend, totaling 64 points and 18 rebounds against a pair of nationally-ranked opponents. In doing so, he shot an impressive 26-of-35 (74%) from the field. As a result of his outstanding play during the tournament, Justin was named the 2017 Small College Basketball Hall of Fame Classic Most Valuable Player.
The Spartans play their next three in a row at home, starting with next weekend's Tip-off Classic. On Saturday, November 11, the University of New Haven visits Aquinas Hall for an 8:00 pm start, with the hosts squaring off with St. Michael's at 2:00 pm on Sunday, November 12. Then on Wednesday, November 15, Jefferson (formerly Philadelphia U) pays a call for a 7:30 pm start.