The St. Thomas Aquinas College women's basketball team opened the season with a convincing 84-60 victory over Bloomfield College in the opening game of the Spartans Tip-off Classic. The game was the both of the season for both squads, which enjoyed success last season with STAC finishing at 19-11, while Bloomfield posted an impressive 21-8 overall mark.
STAC's offense struggled for much of the first quarter and the visitors looked strong, with Ilysia Lewis' hoop giving the Bears a 20-14 lead with just under a minute to play in the session. Jenna Erickson injected a shot of energy into the Lady Spartans with a pair of free throws and a three pointer, part of a 12-point quarter to close the gap to 20-19 after one.
If Erickson carried the load in the opening stanza, her teammates stepped up in the second. Adiyah Henderson hit a pair of lay-ups in the first 30 seconds, and Zaria Thomas hit a three to stake St. Thomas Aquinas to a 26-20 lead, and the hosts would not look back. The Lady Spartans clamped down the defense to the tune of a 14-3 run over a span of nearly seven minutes, with Henderson scoring the final five points as STAC held a 46-34 edge at halftime.
Chelsea Murphy started the third quarter with another trey - one of nine in just 20 shots for the Lady Spartans on the night - and STAC expanded the lead to as many as 25 at 72-47 by the end of the quarter. Any hope for a Bloomfield comeback was stifled by the St. Thomas Aquinas defense, which held the Bears off the board for the first 4:40 of the final quarter, and without a field goal for over seven minutes, as a pair of Julia Winnick three-pointers maxed out the advantage at 83-50.
Erickson led all scorers with 19 points to go with 10 assists, while Thomas shot 7-of-9 from the field to post 18 in her Lady Spartans debut, and Henderson added 10. Dayanni Cochran led Bloomfield with 18 points with Deja Mckenzie adding 13.
The Lady Spartans will wrap up their host weekend against local rival Dominican College, which suffered a 73-70 loss at the hands of Mercy College in Friday's finale. STAC will play five of their first six games at Aquinas Hall, continuing on Wednesday, November 15, when the University of New Haven visits for a 5:30 pm start. The game is the front end of a double-header, to be followed by the men's team hosting Jefferson (formerly Philadelphia University).