Sunday, March 29, 2015
Spartan Hoopsters Drop a Close ECC Championship Game
By Dylan Bestler
On Sunday, March 8, the St. Thomas Aquinas Spartans took on the Bridgeport Purple Knights for the East Coast Conference basketball championship at LIU Post. The East Coast Conference consists of eleven colleges: Bridgeport, Daemen, District of Columbia, Dowling, LIU Post, Mercy, Molloy, NYIT, Queens, Roberts Wesleyan and St. Thomas Aquinas. STAC was the first seed coming out of the regular season, with a conference record of 17-3. Bridgeport also had a conference record of 17-3, so the fans knew before the opening tip-off that they were in store for a great game.
The Spartans started off the first half slow, at one point trailing 16-4, with the Purple Knights led by Bridgeport’s Jesse Jones, who had five of those points. But the Spartans were not out of this game. Towards the end of the half, it seemed as though STAC freshman James Mitchell couldn’t miss a shot, hitting 14 points. He pumped up the team as well as the crowd with eight straight points. At half-time, the Spartans made it a three-point game. The score was 37-34 in favor of the Purple Knights.
The Spartans came out hot in the second half. Led by STAC freshman Justin Reyes, the Spartans were up 71-64 with five minutes left in the game. Reyes was the top player for the Spartans, having 22 points and 17 rebounds when the game was over. Most people thought the game was over at that point and the championship was going to STAC, but as Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra once said “It ain’t over, til it’s over.”
The Purple Knights began their comeback, as Jesse Jones made five points in the Purple Knight’s seven point run with a layup and a 3-pointer. This made the game 74-73, Bridgeport. This is where the game got really intense. With 21 seconds left and the score 78-76 in favor of Bridgeport, STAC sophomore Chas Walter goes up for a layup and makes it. He fell to the ground and the ref called a foul. The Spartans fans were going ballistic. They thought the game was tied up and Walter was going to the foul line for an extra shot to take the lead back. But the foul was on Walter so the point didn’t count and Bridgeport still had a two point lead.
That was all she wrote for the ECC championship game. The final score, 82-78 in favor of Bridgeport, winning their third straight ECC title. Bridgeport senior Willie Williams III was named the championship game's Most Outstanding Player, with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Bridgeport will now be entered into the NCAA National Tournament with this win. It was a sad day for the Spartans, especially for seniors Marcus Henderson, Alushula Odongo and Jonathon McNair, who all played their final game wearing the STAC jersey. Still, it was a great season and a great game. The whole STAC community should be proud of what this team has accomplished.