The LIU Post men’s basketball team went on the road and defeated the Saint Thomas Aquinas Spartans (8-14) on Saturday, February 11th, by a score of 73-63. The Pioneers had a balanced scoring effort in which four players reached double figures in scoring. Senior guard Stefan Bonneau had a game-high 24 points and helped the Pioneers (17-5) to their 10th win in 11 games.
Boasting the East Coast Conference’s highest scoring offense, averaging 85 points per game, the Pioneers jumped out to a quick 13-2 lead in the first six minutes of action. Even with hitting one of seven attempted three-pointers and not getting to the free-throw line once, the Spartans went into the half down 34-25.
With just under 14 minutes remaining in the second half, the Spartans got their closest to the Pioneers after junior guard Irin Stark drained a three-pointer to make it 48-41 in favor of the Pioneers. But, seven points were as close as the Spartans came to the Pioneers in the second half.
In addition to Bonneau’s 24 points, the Pioneers’ big men all had solid games. Freshman forward Tyuan Williams scored 10 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and sophomore forward Vaughn Allen had 13 points while securing nine rebounds. Providing a spark from the bench, freshman forward Charles McCann notched eight points along with eight rebounds, playing tough defense all game long.
Despite losing by 10 points, the Spartans held a slight edge in every shooting category. The Spartans were more efficient from the floor, beyond the arc, and at the charity stripe. But, stats can sometimes be misleading: the Spartans may have been more efficient from the free-throw line, but they attempted their first free-throw with just under five minutes left to play in the game. One statistic the Spartans clearly did not win was turnovers. The Pioneers had six turnovers all game long and forced the Spartans into 16 turnovers. The Pioneers took care of the ball on offense and caused problems for the Spartans on defense, which, in turn, led to another win for the red-hot Pioneers.
For the Spartans, junior guards Irin Stark and Justin Brown, along with sophomore forward Omar Kellman, led the team in scoring, each putting up 14 points. The Spartans, known more for their defense, could not do enough to slow down the Pioneers.
The Pioneers’ next game is at home on Wednesday, February 15th, against the Queens College Knights (4-18) at 7 p.m. The Knights have struggled all year long, dropping seven games in row and 15 of their last 16. The Pioneers will look for the sweep of the Knights this season, as this is their final meeting of the year, with the Pioneers winning the previous two matchups.