The St. Thomas Aquinas College men's basketball team saw its eight-game winning streak snapped in a 73-57 East Coast Conference setback at the University of Bridgeport. The Spartans dropped to 13-4 overall and 4-1 in conference action, with Bridgeport improving to 12-4, 5-1.
After registering 106 points in Wednesday's high paced victory over Mercy, the Spartans struggled to score early, not getting on the board until a Kam Murrell three deadlocked the score at 3-3 after 2:48 of play. Another Murrell trey gave the visitors an 8-6 lead, but after Hashem Abbas and JR Connell traded hoops to make the tally 10-8, STAC went cold again, going over four minutes without scoring. The Purple Knights were not faring much better however, as the Spartans held a narrow 13-12 advantage midway through the half.
Eric Rankin touched off a 6-0 run to put UB on top, and Sam Joseph reeled off five straight points to open as much as a 12-point advantage before settling for a 30-20 lead at intermission. Bridgeport's lead ballooned to 38-22 before STAC got on track, with a Murrell three-pointer and a pair of Justin Reyes free throws capping a 19-3 outburst over a five minute span to tie the affair at 41-41.
A Ross Greenfield layup put the Spartans on top at 45-44 midway through the half, but Dennis Green answered with a momentum-changing hoop from deep, setting off a decisive 9-0 Purple Knights run. While STAC closed the gap to 53-49 with 5:27 left, the hosts dealt the knockout blow with an 18-4 burst to pull away late for the win.
Murrell led all scorers with 21 points, with Reyes contributing 11 and a game-high 10 rebounds for St. Thomas Aquinas. Abbas came off the bench to lead four Purple Knights in double-figures with 15, while D'Vonne Trumbo added 14.
The Spartans are now off for the week before returning to action with a trip to the University of the District of Columbia on Saturday, January 13. They will then travel to NYIT for another conference tilt on January 17 before returning to Aquinas Hall to host LIU Post on Saturday, January 20.