Stonehill Skyhawks Athletics

#6/7 St. Thomas Aquinas Holds Off Men's Basketball, 79-73


Bess scored 14 of his team-high 17 points in the second half to help spark the Skyhawks comeback effort. (PHOTO BY Mike Broglio/SportsPix)

Reyes posts double-double as Spartans hold off late Skyhawks rally

SPARKILL, N.Y. (November 27, 2016) – Saint Thomas Aquinas College, ranked No. 6 in this week's National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Division II poll and No. 7 in the D2SIDA Top 25 media poll, held off a late rally from Stonehill College, receiving votes in the NABC poll and ranked No. 6 in the D2SIDA East Region poll, for a 79-73 victory in non-conference men's basketball action at Aquinas Hall Gymnasium this afternoon.

Junior Justin Reyes (Haverhill, Massachusetts/Whittier Tech) kept St. Thomas Aquinas perfect on the young season with a double-double effort of a game-high 27 points and 14 rebounds on 8-of-11 shooting, converting 11-of-14 free-throws, to go with two assists. He scored four of the Spartans final six points in the final minute after Stonehill had fought back from a ten point deficit (70-60) with 4:37 to play to knot the score at 73 apiece with 1:09 left.

Senior Chaz Watler (Brooklyn, New York/Archbishop Molloy) and sophomore Jonathan Lawton (Williamstown, New Jersey/Friends' Central) each added 13 points for STAC, which finished shooting 48.3-percent from the field (29-for-60), including 53.6% (15-28) in the second half. Watler was 4-for-11 from the floor, including 2-for-4 from three-point range, converting 3-of-4 free-throws with three rebounds and two steals, while Lawton chipped in four steals and two boards. Junior Shaquille McFarlan (Mesic, North Carolina/St. Anthony's) contributed eight points on 4-of-9 shooting, five rebounds, three assists and three steals.

Junior Isaiah Bess (LaGrange, Maine/Hampden Academy) led a balanced Stonehill effort by scoring 14 of his team-high 17 points in the second half on 6-of-9 shooting, including 5-for-8 from three-point distance, with three rebounds, an assist and steal. Senior preseason All-American Ryan Logan (Fredericktown, Ohio/Fredericktown) added 13 points, connecting on 2-of-4 threes, with four rebounds and four steals, while junior Joel Berroa (Lawrence, Massachusetts/Bridgton Academy) added 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting, including 2-for-5 from deep, and six rebounds in 19 minutes off the bench. Junior KJ Lee (Huntington Station, New York/Long Island Lutheran) chipped in ten points on 4-of-7 shooting, a career-high seven assists and two assists.

Stonehill shot 45.8-percent from the field (27-for-59), including 54.8% (17-31) in the second half, connecting on 13-of-35 (37.1%) three-pointers. The Skyhawks held a 33-32 rebounding edge, but was outscored 10-4 in second chance points and STAC turned an 18-9 turnover differential into a 20-5 advantage in points off turnovers. The Spartans also outscored the Skyhawks 16-6 at the free-throw line, converting 16-of-20 attempts (80%), compared to 6-for-8 (75%) for the guests.


Berroa netted 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting off the bench for the Skyhawks. (PHOTO BY Mike Broglio/SportsPix)

Stonehill trailed by a game-high 11 points (61-50) after a McFarlan jumper with 9:06 remaining. The Skyhawks deficit was still ten (70-60) when Reyes made one of two at the free-throw line with 4:37 left, before the visitors used a 13-3 run to pull even (73-73) after a Bess three-pointer with 69-seconds to play. STAC closed out the game from there, with Reyes putting the Spartans in front for good with a jumper with 44-seconds remaining after a Stonehill turnover. The Spartans followed by converting all four free-throw attempts from there, with two from Watler after a Skyhawks turnover and two from Reyes after the visitors missed two three-point attempts on their next possession.

St. Thomas Aquinas jumped out to a quick nine point lead (12-3) five minutes into the game, but Stonehill rallied with 14 of the next 20 points to close within one (18-17) after a Logan jumper midway through the half. Watler answered with a three-pointer for STAC, but the Skyhawks reeled off eight straight to take the lead (25-21) after a three by senior Jim Walsh (Manasquan, New Jersey/Manasquan) with 7:13 left in the half. The Spartans drew even (25-25) after a Lawton jumper with 4:37 to go and the teams battled back and forth until STAC scored the final five points of the half to take the lead (34-29) into the lockerroom on a Watler triple.

STAC scored the first three points of the second half to open an eight point lead (38-29) after a jumper from junior James Mitchell (Washington, D.C./St. John's College) a minute in. The Spartans lead reached double figures (45-35) for the first time on a Watler jumper four minutes into the second before Stonehill rallied with three-straight threes, including two from Berroa, to close within a point (45-44) after a Bess triple with 14:27 on the clock. The Spartans wouldn't relinquish the lead, methodically working their advantage to the game-high 11 (61-50) after the McFarlan jumper with nine minutes to go.

Stonehill (3-3, 1-2 NE-10), which has dropped back to back games for the first time since the final two (postseason) games of the 2014-15 season, looks to bounce back on Wednesday at Franklin Pierce University for a Northeast-10 Conference matchup at 7:30 p.m. The Skyhawks return home on Wednesday, December 7, to host Southern New Hampshire University at 7:30 p.m. St. Thomas Aquinas (5-0, 0-0 ECC) hosts Roberts Wesleyan College on Wednesday for its East Coast Conference opener at 7:30 p.m.

For the latest on Stonehill Athletics, follow the Skyhawks via social media on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Fans can also download the Stonehill Skyhawks "Front Row" mobile app, powered by PrestoSports, on iTunes and the Android Market.