Lady Spartans Ride Late Surge to Extend Win Streak to Five at NYIT, 60-51
The St. Thomas Aquinas College women's basketball team utilized a 14-0 run and held on for a big victory at NYIT, 60-51. Sara Oliviera led all scorers with 18 for the Lady Spartans, who have now won seven of their last eight. Briana Sloper and Bianca Kowgios added 13 each for the triumphant visitors.
STAC is gaining momentum at the right time, improving to 14-10
overall as the regular season enters its final week. More
importantly, the Lady Spartans gain a game on their next closest
foe in the East Coast Conference standings, improving to 9-5 while
Tech slips to 7-6, with a 14-11 mark overall after their fourth
setback in five games. STAC's victory virtually secures a spot in
the upcoming ECC Tournament, while also improving their hold on one
of the top four positions and possible home court in the first
Despite early turnover troubles by the Lady Spartans, neither team was able to garner an advantage of more than four points and the lead changed hands on several occasions. A consecutive pair of Oliviera threes capped off an 8-0 STAC run to open up the largest margin of the stanza at 27-20 with just three minutes left, but the Bears responded with the next four points to trim the deficit to 27-24 after a hard-fought first 20 minutes.
Tech scored the first two points after the break but STAC remained cold to start the second frame, as Oliviera hit yet another trey en route to her career-high at the three minute mark, breaking a six-minute drought and reestablishing a four point margin at 30-26. After a Demitra Apergis bucket, Sloper - who had 10 points in the second half and 11 rebounds total - recorded the next four Lady Spartan points to open the gap back to six. Continuing on the theme, the Bears would roar back and the teams would again tussle with narrow leads.
Once again, the Lady Spartans would take charge in unlikely fashion - from downtown. A Kowgios trey with 7:14 left was preceded by another from Oliviera just 53 seconds later to open a 46-38 gap. A stunning series of NYIT turnovers and four STAC buckets over a 40 second span keyed a 14-0 run and kept the Lady Spartans ahead to stay, but not without some anxious final moments. While the Bears recorded the next 13 points to keep hope alive in the frantic waning minutes, four straight Shpresa Liharevic free throws for St. Thomas Aquinas put the big win in the books.
Rebecca Lynch led the way for NYIT with a triple-double - 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 steals - while Cierra Baker contributed 10 points and 10 boards. Turnovers would nearly prove to be the Lady Spartans' undoing, as they yielded 29 to just 18 for the hosts, but they would offset the difference with advantages in shooting (21-55, 38% to Tech's 19-66, 29%) and rebounding (47-40 STAC).
Two games remain in the regular season as the Lady Spartans look
to carry their recent hot hand into the ECC Tournament. They will
now have a week off before traveling to the University of
Bridgeport on Wednesday, February 22nd before hosting Mercy College
to wrap up the pre-tournament portion of the schedule on Senior
Day, Saturday, February 25 at 1:00 pm. If you can't be on hand to
enjoy Alumni Day and all the action of STAC hoops, be sure to watch
the game online and follow along with our Live Stats feature. The
ECC Tournament begins on Wednesday, February 29 with first round
action at high seeds and culminates with the semis and finals at
Queens College on Saturday, March 3 and Sunday, March