The St. Thomas Aquinas College men's basketball team battled to a 99-97 victory over the University of Bridgeport in an East Coast Conference contest at Aquinas Hall. The Spartans, ranked #23 by the NABC and #21 by D2SIDA in this week's national polls, improved to 8-1 overall and 2-0 in ECC play, with Bridgeport slipping to 5-3, 1-1. The game was a rematch of last season's ECC final, which saw the Spartans prevail to capture their third straight conference crown.
Osbel Carabalo led six STAC scorers in double-figures with a game-high 23 points, Kevin Lynch collected 14 points and a game-high 10 rebounds, Zach Rzwenecki, Sekou Cisse, and Louis Griffith added 13 each, and Demetre Roberts chipped in with 12. Vakas Ikbal and Bakary Camara set the pace for the Purple Knights with 15 each.
STAC trailed by as many as eight points early but Rzwenicki hit three threes over a 47-second span to give the hosts a 29-25 edge. Bridgeport again rallied to take the lead before the teams settled for a fitting 51-51 halftime tie, with each stat category being virtually identical.
Neither team led by more than four points until the final two minutes and the lead changed hands several times before Cisse hit a pair from the line to give STAC an 87-86 lead with 3:04 left. Caraballo hit a jumper and a pair from the line, and Griffith dropped one of two from the line to make the score 92-86 with 1:04 to go, and the Spartans hit their last six free throws in the final minutes to overcome the Purple Knights' frantic pressure.
The Spartans have two games remaining in the calendar year, both non-conference affairs, hosting Saint Rose on Monday, December 17 at 2:00 pm before traveling to play Adelphi on December 30. They return to ECC action to start the new hear with a home contest against UDC on Wednesday, January 2, 2019, at 7:00 pm.