The St. Thomas Aquinas College men's basketball team rallied from a 17-point second-half deficit but came up just short in a 71-65 East Coast Conference defeat at Roberts Wesleyan College. The Spartans have now dropped two straight and stand at 15-4 overall and 7-2 in ECC play, with RWC improving to 9-7, 5-4.
Coming off Friday's tough overtime loss at Daemen, STAC got off to a solid start with Kevin Lynch hitting a three-pointer to open an 11-7 lead just over three minutes into the game. The offense would struggle from there, however, and Isaiah Lewis did all the scoring - including a pair of threes - in an 8-0 Redhawks run to take a 15-11 edge. The Spartans tallied just three points in a span of eight minutes, as Roberts Wesleyan extended thier lead to as many as 11 points before settling for a 36-27 halftime advantage.
That momentum continued as the hosts scored the first five points of the second half and the Spartans hit just a pair of Jamar Sudan free throws over the first five minutes of the session, with RWC extending the gap to 46-29. STAC showed signs of life with David Aikens hitting a layup to cap a 9-2 run to draw within 10, but the Redhawks held that margin at 59-49 with just 5:33 left.
Aikens and Kam Murrell hit threes wrapped around a pair of Lewis foul shots as the tally closed to 61-55 with under four remaining. Roberts once again answered to make the score 65-56 with 3:34 left, but STAC's push was far from finished. Murrell hit another trey and Lynch followed from in close for a 65-61 margin with 2:12 still to go. Lewis hit one-of-two from the line, but Osbel Caraballo and Louis Griffith answered to make the score 66-65 with 1:01 to play.
Michael Bush hit a pair for a 68-65 Roberts lead with 51 seconds left, giving STAC the ball with a chance to tie, but a turnover stalled the rally in Roberts hit three from the line in the waning seconds to seal the hard-fought win. Murrell scored 20 and Lynch added 12 with nine rebounds to pace the visitors, while Payton McLaurin led all scorers with 27 for the Redhawks.
The Spartans look to get back on the winning track in the friendly confines of Aquinas Hall, returning home to start the second half of the conference slate against Mercy College. The game is the back end of a double-header and will start at approximately 7:30, following the women's teams clashing in a 5:30 start.