When and Where: January 9, 2017 – Sparkill, N.Y. (Aquinas Hall Gymnasium)
Score: Saint Thomas Aquinas College 104, Southern New Hampshire University 90
Records: STAC 12-4, SNHU 11-3
Redshirt-junior Chris Walters (Stamford, Conn.) and senior Devin Gilligan (Amherst, N.H.) combined for 45 points, but the Southern New Hampshire University men's basketball team was handed a 104-90 defeat by 23rd-ranked Saint Thomas Aquinas College on Monday evening at Aquinas Hall Gymnasium.
Walters led the Penmen with 23 points (8-12 FG, 1-3 3-FG, 6-9 FT), six rebounds and three assists, while Gilligan chimed in with 22 points (7-12 FG, 2-5 3-FG, 6-6 FT), two boards and two assists. Senior Jerome Harris (Hartford, Conn.) netted 14 points (4-5 FG, 4-5 3-FG, 2-2 FT), with sophomore Daquaise Andrews (Queens, N.Y.) adding 12 points (4-8 FG, 1-3 3-FG, 3-5 FT), four assists, two rebounds, two steals and a block.
Jonathan Lawton paced the Spartans with a game-high 24 points, while Justin Reyes contributed 20.
A 2-2 tie was the closest Southern New Hampshire ever came to holding a lead as Saint Thomas Aquinas followed with a 28-7 bombarding to grab its largest lead of the night at 30-9 midway through the opening half. Lawton bookended the run with two of his four 3-pointers during the stretch.
A four-point play from Walters sparked a personal 6-2 run that trimmed the SNHU deficit to 17 with 8:24 remaining, but STAC ran its lead right back to 21 nearly two minutes later. The gap was 20 with under three minutes on the clock when the Penmen ended the half with an 11-4 run that sliced the deficit to 49-36 at the break. Andrews scored six points during the stretch, including a 3-pointer as time expired.
A Gilligan 3-pointer just 10 seconds into the second half kept momentum on the Southern New Hampshire side as the visitors made it a 10-point game, but four straight points from James Mitchell sparked an 8-0 counter-run that put the Spartans on top, 57-39, less than three minutes in.
Back-to-back hoops from Gilligan and Walters would make it an 11-point game with more than 14 minutes to play, but an 8-2 spurt – with four points from Chaz Walter – extended the STAC lead to 69-52 with 12:06 to go. The lead would climb as high as 18 before consecutive Harris 3-pointers cut the Penmen deficit to 73-61 midway through the stanza.
SNHU would inch as close as 11 at 79-68 on a Walters free throw with 8:10 left, but treys from Walter and Lawton would bookend a 10-0 run that stretched the Spartans' lead to 21 at 89-68 with 7:06 on the clock. The Penmen would close the second half the same way they did the first half – with an 11-4 run – but it was too little and too late. Freshman Eamonn Joyce (Medford, Mass.) connected on a pair of 3-pointers to lead the charge during the stretch.
Junior Dimitri Floras (Merrimack, N.H.) chipped in six points (3-6 FG), six assists, two rebounds and two steals. Joyce finished with six points (2-2 FG, 2-2 3-FG) and two boards.
-The last time SNHU gave up 104 points in a regulation game was March 3, 2005 when it lost to Bentley University, 105-85, in a Northeast-10 Championship semifinal tilt.
-Southern New Hampshire narrowly outshot Saint Thomas Aquinas, 58.8 percent (30-51) to 58.7 percent (37-63), while STAC returned the favor from long distance, 55.6 percent (10-18) to 43.5 percent (10-23).
-The teams were even from the line, but SNHU shot a better percentage, 76.9 (20-26) to 69 (20-29).
-The Spartans outrebounded the Penmen, 34-23, including 15-7 on the offensive end for a 19-11 advantage in second chance points. They also won the paint (42-40) and used a more impressive assist-to-turnover ratio (17/11-20/18) for a 24-16 margin in points off mistakes.
The Penmen return to action Saturday, Jan. 14 (3:30 p.m.) when they play host to Adelphi University at the SNHU Fieldhouse.
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