The St. Thomas Aquinas College women's basketball team shook off a sluggish first half to capture a 72-51 decision over Queens College in an East Coast Conference contest at Aquinas Hall. The Spartans have now won six straight for the second time this season and have taken 12 of their last 13 to improve to 15-2 overall, and retain first place in the ECC with a 6-0 mark. Queens slipped to its sixth straight defeat to drop to 2-13, 1-6.
Despite the disparity in records, STAC had its hands full throughout the first half, as the Knights' zone defense and slow tempo kept the hosts out of rhythm. A pair of early hoops by Kelllyann Averill was all of the Spartans' scoring through four minutes, yet that was enough for a 4-2 lead. Alexa Huertas hit back-to-back threes to open a 19-10 lead which held through the end of the first quarter, but Queens chipped away in the second.
Kaitlyn Mahon and Nora Gabel hit from deep to close the gap to 21-16, and consecutive treys from Gabel and Beth Bonin lifted Queens into a 26-23 lead with 2:31 to play in the half. St. Thomas Aquinas answered with threes from Huertas and Julia Winnik in the final 42 seconds to reclaim the lead, which stood at a narrow 31-30 at intermission.
While neither squad scored in the first two minutes of the third, STAC had clearly turned up the intensity and a Winnik three opened the floodgates, reeling off the first 12 points of the quarter and keeping the Knights off the board for nearly six minutes while opening a 43-30 gap. Queens answered with three points but the Spartans kept the momentum, with a late Winnick strike keying a 7-0 finish for a more comfortable 50-33 edge through 30 minutes, with the visitors being outscored by a 19-3 tally in the session. From there, St. Thomas Aquinas cruised to the finish to extend their first-place winning streak.
Averill paced four scorers in double-figures with 12, while teammates Winnik, Huertas, and Emily Preston added 11 each for STAC. Lakeisha Officer came off the bench to tally a game-high 13 for the Knights, with Lucy Tougas chipping in 12. The hosts dominated the boards by a 49-35 margin and forced 20 turnovers while yielding just 10.
The Spartans return to action on Saturday, January 19, traveling to take on Molloy College in another East Coast Conference battle. They will then be off until embarking on their annual Western New York trip, meeting Daemen on Friday, January 25, and Roberts Wesleyan two days later.