The St. Thomas Aquinas College men's basketball team battled back from a double-digit deficit before falling short in a 68-66 East Coast Conference defeat at the University of Bridgeport. The Spartans have now dropped three of the last four to stand at 16-5 overall and 8-3 in the ECC, with Bridgeport improving to 11-10, 6-5.
Holding to their recent pattern, the Spartans found themselves in an early hole as Jose Pabon-Scanchez hit from deep to close out a 10-5, giving the Purple Knights a 15-5 lead just over six minutes into the game. The lead swelled to as high as 23-11 midway through the half, and STAC went over four minutes without a point before settling for a 33-22 halftime deficit.
STAC's offense found some rhythm and chipped away as a Louis Griffith three cut the gap to 46-41 just over seven minutes into the second, though a Hashem Abbas basket made the tally 50-44 with 11;37 left. Osbel Caraballo, Kam Murrell, and Grant Singleton each hit baskets as the Spartans scratched back to tie at 50-50 with 9:43 on the clock. The visitors again deadlocked the score at 55-55, but never gained a lead as the Purple Knights rode a 10-2 spurt to lead, 65-57 with 1:18 left.
Caraballo hit from in close to give STAC late life at 66-64 with 19 seconds left, but Jayden Iturmendi hit a pair from the line to seal his team's win. Caraballo led his team with 15 points and a game-high 12 rebounds, with Louis Griffith chipping in 14. Iturmendi led three Purple Knights in double-figures with 15 points.
The Spartans hit the road on Wednesday, February 6, traveling to NYIT for an ECC battle before returning to Aquinas Hall to take in LIU Post on Saturday, February 9.