Women's Basketball Second Half Rally at STAC Falls Short

SPARKILL, N.Y. – Briana Sloper finished with a game-high 27 points as Saint Thomas Aquinas College recorded a 72-60 non-conference women's basketball victory over Southern New Hampshire University at Aquinas Hall Saturday afternoon.  The Spartans won their fourth in a row to improve to 7-3, while the Penmen now stand at 2-6 on the season.

Sloper went 12-17 from the floor and also grabbed eight rebounds as she paced four Spartans in double figures.  Leane Urbancik finished with 15 points off the bench, while Shpresa Liharevic went 3-4 behind the arc and totaled 13 points and five assists.  Bianca Kowgios recorded a double-double for Saint Thomas Aquinas, as she registered 12 points while handing out 11 assists.

Julia Houghtaling (Franconia, N.H.) and Sloane Sorrell (Berwick, Maine) each finished with double-doubles to lead Southern New Hampshire.  Houghtaling finished 9-12 from the floor and finished with 20 points while grabbing 11 rebounds, her fourth double-double in the last six games.  Sorrell added 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Penmen.  Magdala Johnson (Sandown, N.H.) knocked down three three-pointers and finished with nine points, while Michelle DeRoma (West Roxbury, Mass.) chipped in with eight points and four assists.

Saint Thomas Aquinas led 40-27 at halftime and extended its lead to 17 (44-27) a minute into the  second half. Southern New Hampshire would outscore the Spartans 23-8 over the next eight minutes and a three by Johnson with 11:21 left made it a 52-50 game.  The hosts would counter with an 8-0 spurt and a Urbancik basket with just over eight minutes to play made it 60-50.  SNHU would cut it to 60-53 with 6:45 to play on a Johnson three, but that would be as close as the Penmen would get.

The game got off to a furious scoring pace, with the Penmen taking a 13-11 lead five minutes into the game on a basket by Sorrell.  The Spartans would score the game's next 12 points and a conventional three-point play by Sloper with 11:23 left made it a 23-13 game.  Saint Thomas took a 40-21 lead with 2:42 left on a Sloper layup and led 40-27 at halftime.

Saint Thomas Aquinas shot 18-35 (51.4%) in the first half and 49.2% for the contest while the Penmen were just 12-34 (35.3%) in the opening 20 minutes and 40% for the game.  The Spartans were successful on four of their eight long-range attempts while the Penmen were just 5-14 behind the arc.  Southern New Hampshire outrebounded STAC 37-30.

Southern New Hampshire is idle until December 29-30 when it hosts the SNHU Holiday Classic at the SNHU Fieldhouse.  The tournament also features Bentley University, University of Bridgeport and Dowling College, with the Penmen facing Dowling on day one and Bridgeport on day two, with both Penmen games starting at 5:30 pm.