The St. Thomas Aquinas College men's basketball team held off a tough challenge from New York Institute of Technology for a 93-79 victory in an East Coast Conference battle at Aquinas Hall. The Spartans, ranked #19 in the nation in this week's NABC coaches poll, have now won 7-of-8 to improve to 13-2 overall, and moved into a tie for first in the conference standings with a 4-0 mark. NYIT dropped to 1-13, 1-4 with the loss.
STAC's full-court pressure forced a pair of turnovers leading to hoops as the hosts jumped to a 7-0 lead after just 1:20 of play. NYIT chipped away, tying the score at 11-11 on a Kieran Hamilton lay-up and both teams struggled to assert momentum in a foul-filled first half. The Spartans held their visitors without a point for over four minutes, as a 10-0 run expanded the margin to 32-19, though again the Bears would battle back and narrow their halftime deficit to a narrow 40-34.
Sekou Cisse hit a three and and Osbel Caraballo added a bucket to open the second half, but again NYIT rode a Hamilton basket to draw within 45-39. Kam Murrell and Louis Griffith each hit from deep as the Spartans used a 12-1 burst to open a 57-40 gap and the hosts maxed their advantage to as many as 21 in cruising to the finish.
Caraballo led five St. Thomas Aquinas players in double-figures with 16, Sekou Cisse posted 15, Kevin Lynch had 12 and a game-high 15 rebounds, and Griffith (12) and Murrell also had a hand in the balanced attack. Hamilton was on fire for NYIT with a game-high 27 point performance, while teammate Marcus Saint-Furcy chipped in 21.
The Spartans return to action this Saturday, traveling to LIU Post for another ECC tilt before returning to Aquinas Hall to host Queens College on Wednesday, January 16. The men's game will be the back end of a double-header with the women's teams starting the action at 5:30, with the men to start at approximately 7:30.