The St. Thomas Aquinas College men's basketball team saw its string of three straight East Coast Conference Tournament Championships snapped in a tough 73-72 loss to Molloy at the University of Bridgeport. The Spartans stand at 23-6 overall will await their fate as the NCAA will determine its eight East Region participants when the field of 64 is announced on Sunday's selection show.
In a tightly-contested first half, neither team grabbed a lead in excess of four points until Nick Corbett's three-pointer gave Molloy a 35-29 edge with 4:59 left in the first half. The Spartans bounced back to narrow the gap to 36-34 at intermission, but quickly gained the momentum in the second half. Sekou Cisse's dunk put the exclamation point on a 9-0 STAC run, opening a 45-38 lead with 15:35 to go. Jamar Sudan reeled off seven straight points in a 9-2 burst as the Spartans opened a 56-44 margin midway through the second.
Molloy quickly responded with six straight points to cut the deficit in half, but the Spartans still held a slim 69-65 lead with 3:10 remaining. Corbett made a pair from the line and followed with a jumper to tie the game with 2:11 left, and Mike Torre's three put the Lions on top to stay with 1:44 left. Corbett made one-of-two from the line, but Kam Murrell struck from deep to draw STAC within one with only 50 seconds to go. With time winding down, the Spartans had a chance to take the lead but Demetre Roberts' jumper was off the mark, and one final chance after a pair of missed free throws by Curtis Jenkins, but STAC was unable to get off a final shot.
Roberts led the Spartans with 17 points, Sudan added 14, Murrell had 12 and and Cisse 10. Corbett led all scorers with 25, with Torre chipping in 17 in the win. STAC took the battle of the boards by a 40-34 count in a game that was very well played with the teams combining for just 19 turnovers on the night - nine by STAC and 10 for the Lions.