The St. Thomas Aquinas College men's basketball team held on for a 78-73 victory over the College of Saint Rose in a non-conference battle at Aquinas Hall. The Spartans have now won four straight to improve to 9-1 on the season, while Saint Rose dropped to 4-7 with the setback.
Demetre Roberts got the ball rolling for STAC with a three-pointer on the team's first possession, and Kam Murrell added another to open a 12-4 lead after just five minutes of action. Zach Rzewnicki hit from deep and Roberts added a jumper as the Spartans bolted to a 22-9 advantage nearing the midway point of the half.
From there, Saint Rose shifted to a zone defense, frustrating the hosts and touching off a 12-2 run to cut the gap to 24-21. The Golden Knights trimmed the deficit to as few as two before the half ended with St. Thomas Aquinas claiming a 32-29 lead.
Matt Cerutti's quick lay-up drew the visitors to within one point, but Louis Griffith drilled a trey to cap a 9-2 burst to open a little breathing room at 49-42 six minutes into the second half. Yet again the Golden Knights battled back, taking their first lead of the night when Shane Herrity's three highlighted an 11-3 spurt to make the tally 56-55 with 8:54 remaining.
That narrow edge lasted for 47 seconds before Roberts scored from deep to give the Spartans a lead they would not relinquish. Murrell added another trey to widen the score to 66-58 with just under five to go, but though Saint Rose drew to within three, they did not have an offensive possession the rest of the way with a chance to tie the score, as STAC sealed the deal by hitting their final eight free throws over the final 27 seconds of play.
Murrell and Griffith led five players in double-figures with 15 for St. Thomas Aquinas, with Roberts (12), Rzewnicki (11) and Kevin Lynch (10) also hitting the mark. Sekou Sylla paced all scorers with 21 for Saint Rose, with Cerutti adding 11.
The Spartans will now enjoy the holiday break before returning to action at Adelphi University on Saturday, December 30. They ring in the New Year with a return to East Coast Conference action as part of a double-header against the University of the District of Columbia on January 2, 2019.