The St. Thomas Aquinas College men's basketball team prevailed in a battle of the last unbeaten teams in the East Coast Conference, capturing a 74-62 victory at Molloy College. The Spartans, ranked #14 by the NABC and #12 by D2SIDA, have now won 10-of-11 overall to stand at 15-2 on the season, and moved into sole possession of first place with a 7-0 ECC mark. Molloy saw its three-game winning streak snapped, falling to 11-6, 7-1.
Osbel Caraballo scored 19 points, Kam Murrell added 17, and Demetre Roberts recorded 16 for STAC, while Curtis Jenkins paced Molloy with a game-high 20 points.
Sekou Cisse and Roberts scored in the first minute to put STAC on top, but Molloy scored the next five points as Justin Caldwell's hoop gave the hosts what would be their only lead of the afternoon. Kevin Lynch drilled a three as part of a 12-2 Spartans run, and a Caraballo layup opened a 19-9 gap after eight minutes. Josh Dennis hit from deep as the Lions trimmed the deficit to 26-25 with an 11-2 burst, but Murrell answered with five points in the final minutes to open a 37-29 lead gap at intermission.
STAC's defense limited the Lions to just seven points over the first nine minutes of the second half, and Jamar Sudan added a trey to open a 49-36 advantage. Though Molloy threatened to make a run, Murrell stroked back-to-back threes as a 9-0 run blew the game open at 58-41. The Spartans' lead remained at a comfortable 18 points into the final minute as the Lions scored late to narrow the final score.
Cisse and Lynch led the board battle with eight each as STAC outrebounded the hosts by a 48-41 total, while Murrell accounted for three of his team's five three-pointers.
The Spartans are now off until Friday, January 25, when they take on Daemen College in another big ECC battle, with the back end of their weekend in Western New York will take place at Roberts Wesleyan on Sunday, January 27. They will return home to begin the second half of their conference slate on Wednesday, January 30, when Mercy College visits for a double-header, starting with women's action at 5:30.