The St. Thomas Aquinas College women's basketball team had its winning streak snapped at eight games in a 77-66 East Coast Conference loss at LIU Post. The Lady Spartans, who entered the contest ranked #4 in the NCAA East Region, dropped to 23-4 overall and 15-2 in ECC play, while #6 LIU Post improved to 20-6, 15-1. Both teams have earned first round byes to the ECC Tournament semi-finals, and Post needs either one victory in their final two games or a STAC loss to clinch the top seed.
An Emily Preston jumper capped an early 6-0 Lady Spartans run for an 8-3 lead. After the Pioneers rallied to tie the score at 10-10, three-pointers by Julia Winnick and Alex Bertolino staked the visitors to a 16-10 advantage. Post narrowed the gap to 20-19 after one on a late Kylie Garrett jumper, and the squads exchanged several leads through the middle of the second quarter. Sasha Patterson keyed a 6-0 LIU Post run, and the hosts opened the edge to as many as eight points before settling for a 41-35 halftime lead.
Mikaiya Moore quickly opened the scoring after intermission, touching off an 8-0 Pioneers run to open a 49-35 advantage. STAC's offense continued to struggle and they completed the session with a 61-48 deficit. The Lady Spartans' trademark defense gave them a shot in the fourth quarter, holding Post to just two points over the first 5:45 of the final frame. Unfortunately, the Pioneers' defense was equal to the task, allowing just four STAC points during that span.
With time winding down, the visitors did make a late push, with a pair of Jenna Erickson free throws and a Zaria Thomas three-point play narrowing the gap to 69-63 with 1:53 left, but Post converted from the free throw line in the waning seconds to secure the decision.
Bertolino paced STAC and led all scorers with 20 points, with Erickson chipping in 18 and Preston adding 10. Patterson led four Pioneers in double-figures with 17 points while also grabbing a game-high 17 rebounds.
The Lady Spartans are now off until Saturday, February 24, when they will host the University of the District of Columbia in the regular-season finale at Aquinas Hall. Senior Day festivities will precede the 1:00 pm start, with the men's contest to follow. STAC will then play in the ECC Tournament semi-finals at Roberts Wesleyan College on Saturday, March 2, with time and opponent to be determined.