The St. Thomas Aquinas College men's basketball team, ranked #20 in the nation by the National Association of Basketball Coaches, battled to an 81-78 victory in overtime at #23 Jefferson University. The Spartans remain perfect on the season at 6-0 while tagging Jefferson with it's first loss to drop the hosts to 4-1. Sekou Cisse was on fire with a game-high 34 for STAC, while Josh Bradanese and Deondre Bourne totalled 18 each for Jefferson.
Demetre Roberts hit a three-pointer as the Spartans jumped to a 7-0 lead, but Jefferson rallied as Bourne struck from deep to give the Rams a 17-15 edge midway through the first half. Cisse and Marcus Stevens answered with treys as part of an 8-0 STAC response and Demetre Roberts' jumper staked the visitors to a 38-25 advantage at halftime.
Jefferson wasted little time getting back into the game after intermission, needing less than seven minutes to erase the deficit and Bradanese hit a trey to cap a 24-7 explosion to snag a 49-45 lead. From there, the teams traded leads with a Cisse lay-up putting the visitors on top at 68-67 with just under a minute left in regulation. Bradanese answered to put the Rams on top with 42 ticks left, but Jamar Sudan's three-pointer with 10 seconds left again put the Spartans on top by a 71-69 count with 10 seconds left. With time winding down, Bradanese hit a driving lay-up to tie the score and send the affair to overtime.
Osbel Caraballo and Roberts hit buckets to open the extra session but a three by Bourne cut STAC's margin to 74-73. Cisse and Roberts hit in succession for the Spartans but again Jefferson rallied to set up the tense final moments. Kylan Guerra's lay-up cut the Rams' deficit to 80-78 with 29 seconds left, and Roberts made one-of-two from the line with 17 seconds remaining to give Jefferson one more shot to tie. With time winding down, a fallaway three-point attempt by Bradenese was off the mark as the clock expired.
Cisse was nearly unstoppable, shooting 14-of-16 from the floor to go with eight rebounds, Roberts added 15, and Osbel Caraballo chipped in 12 to go with a game-high 11 caroms. Joining Bradenese and Bourne in doubles for the home squad were DeVaughn Mallory with 16, and Guerra with 11.
The Spartans are right back in the heat of tough regional play on Monday night, November 25, hosting undefeated Dominican College for a 7:00 pm start at Aquinas Hall. After a road game at the College of Staten Island on Saturday, November 30, East Coast Conference action starts at Mercy on Thursday, December 5 before a return to Aquinas Hall to take on Roberts Wesleyan and Daemen on December 11 and 13 respectively.