The St. Thomas Aquinas College women's basketball team fell to a tough 58-55 setback against Assumption College in a non-conference tilt at Aquinas Hall. The Lady Spartans, ranked #7 in the East Region entering the contest, fell to 13-5 overall while #8 Assumption won its 11th in its last 12 to improve to 12-4.
Jenna Erickson led STAC with 18 points with Kellyann Averill adding 13, while Allison Stoddard paced Assumption with 18 and Morgan O'Donnell added 14.
Both defenses were strong early, as Averill scored four straight to give STAC its first lead at 8-6 with four minutes left in the first. Stoddard and Kiera O'Donnell each hit threes to rally Assumption to a 17-13 lead after one quarter.
STAC's defense held the Grayhounds off the board for nearly three minutes to start the second, as Averill and a trey by Erickson gave the hosts a 19-17 lead. Another Erickson three gave the Lady Spartans their largest lead at 24-19 just past the midway point of the quarter, but Jaclyn Storey hit four straight points and Stoddard added a pair from the line to put Assumption back on top at the half, 28-27.
Continuing the pattern, lead changes punctuated the third quarter but STAC closed with a 10-3 burst to grab a 43-40 edge heading into the final stanza. Morgan O'Donnell opened the fourth wiith six straight points wrapped around a Chelsea Murphy three-pointer for STAC, and the contest was deadlocked at 46-46 with seven to play. O'Donnell also came up big on the defensive end, drawing a pair of charges that would prove to be turning points.
Assumption jumped back on top at 52-48 with 4:24 left, but an Erickson jumper and pair of Averill free throws brought the hosts even once again with under two minutes left. Jo Impellizeri put the Grayhounds up by one with 1:30 left, and Stoddard hit a big jumper with 51 seconds left to make the lead 55-52.
Kaitlyn McCue muscled in a rebound off an Erickson miss and completed the three-point play to tie the score with 36 seconds left, but again Stoddard was on the spot, with her 16-footer putting her team on top to stay with 26 ticks left. STAC had one final shot to tie the score, but Erickson's last-second desperation attempt was off the mark.
The Lady Spartans return to East Coast Conference competition on Saturday, January 21, hosting Molloy College at 1:00 pm at Aquinas Hall. The game is the front end of a double-header, followed at approximately 3:00 pm by the men's teams.