The St. Thomas Aquinas College women's basketball team rolled to an 85-65 triumph over LIU Post in an East Coast Conference showdown at Aquinas Hall. The Spartans have now won five straight and 12-of-13 overall, improving to 21-3 overall and 12-1 in the ECC. Post has dropped its last two to fall to 15-8, 8-5. With their fifth straight win overall and 12th in their last 13 games, STAC retains sole possession of first place and has clinched no worse than a top-four slot for the upcoming ECC Tournament.
Billed as a battle between two of the conference's premier teams, LIU Post jumped out to an early 6-2 lead on a Shannon Doyle three-pointer, but the Spartans would assume control from there. Fast ball-movement, sharp shooting, and tenacious defense as Kellyann Averill hit two hoops to key an 11-1 run to give the hosts a six-point edge. St. Thomas Aquinas held a 16-12 lead into the final three minutes of the quarter, but a trey from Zaria Thomas started a 7-0 run, and Chelsea Murphy's late layup made the gap 27-16 after ten minutes.
Missy Sadler caught fire with a trio of jumpers early in the second, and by the time the Spartans' siege was complete, an 18-3 run had opened a commanding 45-19 chasm with just over four minutes left in the half. Though STAC's offense cooled off, the defense held firm and a pair of late Thomas foul shots led to a decisive 47-22 halftime gap.
Post showed signs of life after the break, with Robyn Francis and Dominique Williams each hitting from deep as part of an 8-0 start over the first 1:23 of the third. STAC regained control quickly, however, with Julia Winnik's jumper equaling the Pioneers' burst and extending the gap to 55-30. Asia Turner's three brought the visitors closer, though the lead was still a comfortable 68-50 entering the fourth.
Again, LIU Post threatened to make a game of it, with Sasha Patterson's three-point play closing the gap to 68-55 with nearly nine minutes still left, but the Pioneers were held scoreless for over four minutes as the Spartans' 8-0 run removed any doubt.
Sadler led five players in double-figures for St. Thomas Aquinas with 20 points, as Thomas (15), Averill (14), Emily Preston (10) and Ruth Adams (10) spreading the wealth. Patterson paced Post with 15 to go with a game-high 14 rebounds.
The Spartans return to action on Wednesday, February 13, traveling to the University of the District of Columbia for an East Coast Conference contest. They are then off until returning home for a big weekend, hosting Daemen on Friday, February 22, and Roberts Wesleyan on Sunday, February 24, both at Aquinas Hall.