The St. Thomas Aquinas College men's basketball game won its fourth straight, an 89-84 East Coast Conference win at Roberts Wesleyan College. The Spartans are now 9-3 overall (9-1 in East Region play) and 2-0 in conference, with RWC dropping to 8-3, 1-1. The completed the sweep of their Western New York Weekend, which included an 83-73 win at Daemen on Friday.
Continuing their recent trend of starting slowly, the Spartans fell into an early 5-0 hole as Michael Bush tallied all the points from the free throw line. JR Connell and Zachary Rzwenicki each hit threes to put the visitors on top, starting a 24-3 outburst over an eight minute span to give STAC a 24-8 advantage. Rzwnecki hit a pair of treys and Ross Greenfield hit two from the line to max the lead at 43-25 with two minutes left in the half, but a Manny Joseph foul shot closed the gap to 43-30 at intermission.
Kam Murrell hit a pair from the charity stripe to create what looked to be a comfortable 55-37 lead with 16:27 left, but the Redhawks were far from out of the game. Peyton McLauren hit from deep to spark an 8-0 run to draw the margin to 10, but STAC answered with seven straight to make the score 62-45 with under 13 left.
With the Spartans holding a 67-52 edge with 11:20 left, Roberts Wesleyan began its run on threes by Gintaras Bartaskas and McLauren. Bartaskis added another trey and two from the stripe to make the score 75-70 with just under six left. A pair of Justin Reyes layups helped open the lead back to 81-72 with 3:49 to go, but Isaiah Lewis capped a 7-0 run to cut the margin to 81-79 with 2:17 left.
James Mitchell hit a three on the next possession, but another Bartaskas bomb made the score 87-84 with 39 seconds to go. Roberts got a stop but, with a chance to tie, Justing Vaughan missed from deep and Reyes hit a pair from the line to finish the affair.
Senior Shaquille McFarlan reached a career highlight in the second half. Shaq scored eight straight STAC points, with his first three-pointers putting him within two points of a total of 1,000, and his ensuing trey with 10:42 left put him over the top. Reyes was one of four Spartans in double-figures in scoring with 15, while Rzwenicki, Mitchell, and Murrell adding 12 each. Four Redhawks also hit for doubles with Bartaskas leading all scorers with 20, Lewis chipping in 19 and McLauren 17. Each team grabbed 38 rebounds and the Redhawks stayed in the game by taking care of the ball, yielding just 10 turnovers for the afternoon.
The Spartans have three games remaining in the calendar year, starting with a trip to Molloy College for an ECC battle on Saturday, December 16. They are back at Aquinas Hall to host Holy Family University on Sunday, December 17, and Adelphi pays a call on Saturday, December 30.