The St. Thomas Aquinas College women's basketball team, ranked #9 in the East Region, outlasted LIU Post in a 74-68 East Coast Conference tussle in Greenvale, Long Island. The Lady Spartans improved their season mark to 7-2 overall and a perfect 3-0 in the ECC, with Post falling to 4-5, 2-1. STAC is now in a first place tie in the conference standings with Queens, with Bridgeport 1/2 game back at 2-0.
Kaitlyn McCue came up big with a team-high 16 points for STAC, while Jenna Erickson added 13 and Alex Bertolino chipped in 10. Mikaiya Moore led way with a game-high 17 for the Pioneers, who fell despite holding a commanding 44-23 rebounding advantage.
Bertolino hit a pair of early threes to stake the Lady Spartans to an 8-5 lead, and McCue would key the 15-7 lead with 2:43 to play in the first quarter. Post clamped down the defense, however, reeling off the next 10 points to open a 20-15 gap after one.
Sasha Patterson's layup made the gap 30-22, but Chelsea Murphy's trey was followed by a pair from Erickson, and a pair of Missy Sadler foul shots put STAC in the lead at 35-34 with under two minutes left in the half. The lead would change four times thereafter before Bertolino's late hoop gave the visitors a 39-38 edge at the break.
Neither team gained an advantage of more than two points over the first five minutes of the third quarter, until Adiya Henderson's layup put the Lady Spartans in a 47-43 lead. Murphy extended STAC's margin to 54-48 on another three-pointer with 2:41 left, but Kylie Garrett's three in the final seconds drew the hosts to within 57-55 with ten minutes to play.
Foul trouble and aggressive Pioneers rebounding looked to spell trouble for STAC in the early minutes of the fourth, as Shannon Doyle's layup gave Post the 60-59 advantage. The Lady Spartans defense held LIUP to one point over the next three minutes, but another Garrett trey made the score 64-61 for post at the midway point.
McCue answered with a big bucket to cut the deficit to one, and after two more scoreless minutes, Burden's jumper put STAC in the lead at 65-64 with three minutes left. McCue and Henderson added key buckets down the stretch, and the trademark Lady Spartans defense alowed just one field goal and eight points over the final eight minutes to secure the win.
The Lady Spartans return to Aquinas Hall for East Coast Conference this Saturday, December 10, when New York Insititue of Technology visits. Tip time is 1:00 pm, and the game will be followed by the men's teams starting at approximately 3:00.