The St. Thomas Aquinas College women's basketball team withstood a frantic rally and pulled away late for an 85-78 victory in a non-conference battle at Pace University. The Spartans improved to 4-0 overall, while Pace suffered its first defeat to fall to 2-1. Ruth Adams led five STAC players in double-figures with a game-high 23 points, while Zaria Thomas added 16 and Sarah Scerbak chipped in with 13.
Pace scored the first basket just seconds after the opening tip, but a Thomas three-pointer gave the Spartans a 10-7 lead and Scerbak's late hoop capped off a 9-point quarter for the freshmen as the visitors held a 22-18 lead. Brianna Wong's lay-up brought the Setters to within a pair, but Emily Preston nailed a jumper and Adams wrapped a pair of layups around a quick steal as the edge expanded to 28-20. STAC's defense clamped down as a 14-3 burst over a seven-minute span opened a 40-28 gap at halftime.
STAC held the hosts off the board for the first three minutes of the third quarter and a Thomas trey opened a commanding 50-32 but Pace responded with a vengeance, drilling three from downtown as part of a 15-5 run to close the gap to 55-47 with nearly three minutes still to play in the session. Lexi Huertas stemmed the tide with a big trey, but Jackie DelliSanti had the hot hand as Pace remained in striking distance at 58-51 after 30 minutes.
That momentum carried into the final frame as Lauren Schetter's three-point play drew the Setters even at 60-60 with eight minutes remaining. Facing their first stern challenge of the young season, St. Thomas Aquinas battled back as Scerbak and Preston converted back to back baskets to give the Spartans a lead they would not relinquish as Adams struck again and Thomas reeled off six points in the final minutes to open some breathing room.
Preston added 11 points to go with seven rebounds and Sadler added 10 points in the STAC attack. Despite foul trouble, DelliSanti was a force for Pace with 22 points while Lauren Hackett tossed in 17.
The Spartans hit the road to take on Georgian Court on Wednesday, November 20 in an 8:00 pm start before returning to Aquinas Hall to host Caldwell in another big regional matchup on Saturday, November 23 at 1:00 pm.