The St. Thomas College men's basketball team rallied for an 82-58 East Coast Conference victory over Molloy College at Aquinas Hall, as Justin Reyes scored his 2,000th career point. The Spartans have now won five straight and 13-of-14 overall to improve to 18-4 on the season, moving back into a first place tie with Bridgeport in the ECC at 9-1. Molloy lost its 10th of 11 games overall, falling to 4-17, 3-8.
One week ago against LIU Post, Reyes became only the fourth player in conference history to eclipse the 1,000 mark in career rebounds, and he entered Saturday's game needing just eight points to become the fourth player in St. Thomas Aquinas history to hit 2,000 points. Though the Spartans had their hands full with a tenacious Molloy squad, the redshirt senior needed little time to hit the mark. His right-handed jump-hook from the baseline caught the rim and fell through at the 15:12 mark, snapping a 10-10 tie and creating a moment in STAC history, with the Aquinas Hall crowd rising in ovation.
Though Reyes posted 16 points in the first half, Curtis Jenkins had ten for the Lions, who carried a 34-32 edge at the end of an evenly-played session with a late pair of Josh Dennis free throws providing the difference. After an early exchange of second half leads, it was Reyes again putting his team on top with a pair from the line, with James Mitchell adding a three-pointer to key a 11-2 run, putting the hosts on top at 47-39.
Molloy was able to trim the gap to 49-44 with 12 minutes left, but STAC's defense stepped up, holding the visitors without a point for nearly six minutes and without a field goal covering a span of 11:28. By the time Steven Torre snapped that skid with a trey with 3:09 left, the Spartans had gradually increased their lead to as many as 16, and Reyes followed by continuing his dominance with eight points in an 11-0 run that dealt the final blow.
Not only did he ascend into the record books at St. Thomas Aquinas, with his 32-point explosion Reyes now stands just four points shy of becoming the all-time leading scorer since the East Coast Conference was founded (as the New York Collegiate Athletic Conference) in 1989. Mitchell played a key role in his team's second-half surge, finishing with 20 points while Shaq McFarlan's tenacious defense along with his 12 points also contributed. Jenkins led the way for the visitors with 17 points. Buoyed by a perfect 16-for-16 by Justin Reyes, STAC continued its league-leading free throw shooting advantage, hitting 25-of-27 on the day (93%).
The Spartans will play their next three straight at Aquinas Hall, part of a string of seven of their last nine regular-season games at home. Queens College visits Tuesday for the second meeting between the squads in six days, with Daemen College visiting Friday, both set for 7:30 pm tips. Roberts Wesleyan closes out the busy week on Sunday, paying a call for a 3:00 pm start.
Reyes Scores 2,000th Point