The St. Thomas Aquinas College women's basketball team closed the regular season with an 80-63 East Coast Conference victory over Molloy College at Aquinas Hall. The Spartans, ranked #5 in the East Region, head to the playoffs with a 10-game win streak, improving to 26-3, 17-1, securing the top seed for the upcoming ECC Tournament. STAC has also won 21 straight at Aquinas Hall and will open their defense of last season's East Coast Conference Championship at the University of Bridgeport on Saturday, March 9, in a noon tip against the winner of Wednesday's game between #4 LIU Post and #5 Roberts Wesleyan. Molloy failed to qualify for the post-season, completing its campaign with a record of 10-18, 5-13.
Ihnacinse Grady scored five straight points in a 7-0 Molloy run, giving the visitors an early 14-10 edge. Julia Winnik answered with a three-pointer and free throws from Ruth Adams and Emily Preston led STAC to a 17-14 advantage after one quarter. Zaria Thomas struck from deep and Missy Sadler converted a three-point play as the Spartans grabbed a 26-18 advantage before heading into intermission with a 35-25 lead.
Adams hit a pair of jumpers to start the third quarter and the defense turned up the heat as the hosts bolted to a 14-1 run, opening a 51-26 lead. The Lions continued to battle, drawing to within 64-53 on a Kathryn Gibson trey with 5:22 left, but Winnik hit a three on the next possession and Preston added a three-point play to erase any doubt as seniors Adams, Chelsea Murphy, and Winnik ended their home career on a winning note.
Thomas led five spartans in double-figures with 17 points, with Adams (14), Sadler (13), Murphy (11) and Preston (11) chipping in. Preston came up just shy of a triple-double, adding 10 rebounds and nine assists on the afternoon. Grady set the pace for Molloy with a game-high 21, with Marthe Guirand adding 17.
ECC Tournament play starts on Wednesday night with #5 Roberts Wesleyan traveling to meet #4 LIU Post, and #6 Bridgeport visiting #3 NYIT. Semi-Final action takes place at Bridgeport's Hubbell Gym on Saturday, March 9, with #1 STAC playing at noon and #2 Daemen hitting the floor at 2:30. The Women's Basketball Championship game will take place on Sunday, March 10, at 12:00 noon.