The St. Thomas Aquinas College women's basketball team came up short in an East Coast Conference clash for first place against Queens College, 71-66 at Aquinas Hall. The Lady Spartans are now 12-4 overall and 6-2 in ECC play, with Queens improving to 12-3, 6-1.
Queens jumped to an early 7-1 lead midway through the first quarter but the Lady Spartans offense awoke in a big way, with Jenna Erickson's three capping a 15-2 run, putting her team in a 16-9 lead. Merrick Rowland's late hoop trimmed that to 18-16 after one, but after the teams traded leads in the second, a pair of Erickson treys gave STAC a 38-31 gap at intermission.
After the break, the Knights came out with momentum, with a three from Merrick Rowland putting her team in the lead at 46-45 midway through the third. Kellyann Averill put STAC back on top and again the teams traded leads but a late Ruth Adams basket helped the hosts maintain a narrow 52-51 lead after three.
Madison Rowland netted four points and McKenzie Rowland added three as Queens began the 4th with a 7-0 burst, as tenacious defense held the Lady Spartans to just four points over nearly eight minutes of the final frame, allowing the Knights to reclaim first place wiith the victory.
Erickson led all scorers with 21 points while the Rowland sisters were the story as usual for Queens, with Madison and Merrick netting 20 each and MacKenzie adding 18 to go with 13 rebounds.
Saturday's contest was the first of four straight at home for the Lady Spartans, who return to action on Wednesday, January 11, hosting Mercy College in an ECC battle starting at 5:30 pm.