Men's basketball loses opener at regionally-ranked Saint Thomas Aquinas

Men's basketball loses opener at regionally-ranked Saint Thomas Aquinas

SPARKILL, N.Y. - The Saint Michael's College men's basketball team fell at regionally-ranked Saint Thomas Aquinas (N.Y.) College, 77-61, during its season opener on Saturday during the Spartan Invitational in the Aquinas Hall Gymnasium. It was also the first contest of the year for the hosts, who were seventh in the latest D2SIDA East Region Media Poll and downed Division I Saint John's University by 32 points in an exhibition game.

Junior Matt Bonds (Accokeek, Md./North Point) led Saint Michael's with 17 points, 11 rebounds - including four offensive - four assists and two steals, going 6-of-11 from the floor and 5-of-7 on free throws. He also helped the visitors hold a 40-32 advantage in rebounds. Senior Morrell Gaskins (Cambria Heights, N.Y./Archbishop Molloy) netted a career-high 15 points while also shooting 6-for-11, and junior David Sullivan (Egg Harbor Township, N.J./Saint Augustine Prep) shot 4-of-7 en route to career highs of nine points and six boards. He and Gaskins were both making their first career starts.

Senior Harry Eromosele (Queens, N.Y./CTEA) added career bests of seven points and five caroms in 11 minutes off the bench, classmate Greg Grippo (Edison, N.J./Rutgers Prep) snagged six boards, and junior Zaire Williams (Paterson, N.J./Newark Academy) picked up a career-high-tying four steals.

Redshirt sophomore Justin Reyes led Saint Thomas Aquinas with 19 points and 11 rebounds, sophomore Shaquille McFarlan notched 14 points, and junior Chaz Watler tacked on 11 points.

The Purple Knights scored the first nine points of the game, with Williams knocking down a three-pointer 29 seconds in and Gaskins adding a pair of buckets while snagging two rebounds. Eromosele's three-point play pushed the visitors' advantage to 14-4 at 13:59 of the opening half, and Gaskins' put-back at 12:25 kept Saint Michael's ahead by 10. Reyes scored at the beginning and end of a 10-1 run that brought the Spartans within 17-16 when 8:57 remained, but Bonds and Sullivan turned in hoops 24 seconds apart to put the visitors back up five.

Sophomore Bruno Beča's (Zagreb, Croatia/Westchester Country Day School) first college bucket at 6:27 created a 23-19 margin, but Saint Thomas Aquinas countered with a 15-1 run over a 4:45 stretch. Reyes scored six of the points, including capping the run with a dunk as 1:17 remained. Sullivan snapped his team's drought with a three-pointer at 41 seconds, and the Purple Knights headed into the locker room down 34-27.

Gaskins and Sullivan scored 28 seconds apart to bring Saint Michael's within 36-33 at 18:08 of the second half, and the visitors made it a 40-38 hole when Gaskins dropped in a put-back and Williams' steal led to a Bonds three-point play. Still up just two, the Spartans pulled away when five players scored during a 13-2 run, and the hosts led 55-42 with 13:38 remaining. Bonds' personal 6-2 run edged the Purple Knights to a 57-48 deficit, but Reyes had five points in his team's 12-2 response. Saint Michael's came no closer than 12 down the stretch, when sophomore Colin Richey (Upton, Mass./Choate Rosemary Hall) hit two freebies with 2:34 remaining.

The Purple Knights oppose Molloy (N.Y.) College tomorrow when they conclude play at the tournament at 2 p.m.