The St. Thomas Aquinas College men's basketball team, outscored LIU Post in a 103-93 East Coast Conference triumph at Aquinas Hall. The Spartans have won three straight and 11-of-12 overall to improve to 16-4 overall and 7-1 in ECC play, with LIU Post falling to 7-12, 5-4.
Six lead changed punctuated a high-paced first five minutes, with a James Mitchell shot from long range giving STAC a 9-8 lead. Justin Reyes hit a jumper to top off a 13-4 Spartans run, but LIU Post remained within striking distance, tying the score at 39-39 on a pair of Hunter Powell foul shots with 4:16 left in the half. Jamar Sudan's jumper put the hosts on top at 43-41, but Jared Rivers answered with a three to give the Pioneers a 44-43 edge with 3:03 left.
That score held until 1:39 remained in the half, when STAC recorded a decisive flurry. Reyes put his squad on top with a jumper, and after Kyle McCleggan made one-of-two from the line, Shaq McFarlan converted a three-point play. Mitchell stole the ensuing inbound pass and hit a trey as the seconds dwindled, giving the Spartans a stunning 10-1 run over the final 99 seconds, leading to a 53-45 halftime advantage.
Mitchell and McFarlan hit back-to-back threes and JR Connell hit a layup to extend the margin to 68-53 with 15:49 left. After an exchange of baskets, the Spartans high-octane offense struggled, going scoreless for nearly three minutes. Aary Bibens hit a three to cut the deficit to 70-62. With St. Thomas Aquinas still holding a 76-67 advantage, the visitors went on a tear, with threes from Rivers, Austin Kennedy, and McKleggan pacing an 11-0 outburst that put the Pioneers on top at 78-76 with 7:55 left.
Reyes needed just 17 seconds to answer with a three-pointer of his own to put STAC back on top, and Mitchell added an and-one as part of an 8-2 answer, putting the hosts ahead to stay. McFarlan scored seven points and Reyes added the other four as the Spartans pulled away with an 11-2 run.
Four STAC players scored in double-figures, with Reyes exploding for game-highs of 35 points and 15 rebounds. McFarlan added 22, Mitchell registered 19, and Sudan posted 14 to round out the leaders. Rivers shot 11-of-17 from the field in a 32-point performance to lead the Pioneers, with Darien Jenkins netting 17. STAC dominated the boards by a 43-26 count, including 22 offensive caroms.
The Spartans travel to Queens College for an ECC battle on Wednesday night in a game that will be broadcast via ESPN3. They will return to Aquinas Hall to start a string of four straight at home next Saturday, January 27, hosting Molloy College.