The St. Thomas Aquinas College men's basketball team held on for its fifth straight victory, a 63-61 decision against the hosts in the finale at the Dominican College Tournament. The Spartans improved to a perfect 5-0 on the season with Dominican dropping to 2-2. Though they remain one of just four undefeated teams in the East Region - and the only one to have played as many as five games - the road has not been an easy one, with an average margin of victory of just five points per game.
Playing their fifth game in nine days to start the season, the Spartans struggled early with Dominican jumping to an 8-2 lead. Zachary Rzwenecki's back-to-back threes gave STAC the lead as part of a 33-12 outburst that put the visitors in the lead at 35-20 with just under two minutes to play in the first half. The Chargers scored the last four points to trim the gap to 11 at intermission.
Demetre Roberts hit from deep to open the lead to 46-33 with just under 13 minutes left, but the hosts began to chip away. Daraja Rodwell hit five points in an 8-2 run that brought DC to within 55-51 with six minutes left. Louis Griffith hit a pair from the line to make it a two possession game at 61-57 with 1:30 to go, but Daniel Grant answered quickly from in close to bring the Chargers back within two.
A Tayvon Ginyard steal and subsequent bucket by Jason Copman tied the score at 61-61 with just 45 ticks left, but Roberts calmly handled the ensuing trip, hitting a 14-foot jumper with 24 seconds left that proved to be the difference-maker, though the contest was far from over. A turnover gave STAC a chance to ice the game, but Osbel Caraballo missed a pair from the line with six seconds to go, and Ginyard's potential game-winning three-point attempt from the left corner rattled out at the buzzer to keep the Spartans undefeated on the young season.
Roberts led all scorers with 16 points, including the decisive jumper, with Sekou Cisse contributing 12 points and eight rebounds. Rodwell led three Dominican players in double-figures with 15 points, with Jason Copman adding 14 and 12 caroms.
The Spartans get a well-deserved break after their hectic early schedule, as they don't return to action until Wednesday, November 28, when Bloomfield College visits Aquinas Hall for a battle of perennial regional powers. Tip-off time is at 7:00 pm for the contest that is also a rematch of last season's NCAA East Regional quarter-final, which Bloomfield captured with a 91-78 win.