PHILADELPHIA – The University of the Sciences men's basketball battled back from a nine-point first half defect and team led No. 17 St. Thomas Aquinas a majority of the second half, before the Spartans ultimately pulled away down the stretch for a 71-64 victory over the Devils on Saturday afternoon at Bobby Morgan Arena.
A Brandon Starr layup with 16:09 remaining gave USciences its first lead, 40-38, since the opening minutes, and the Devils would hold on to that advantage until the late.
The Devils grew that advantage to as large as nine, 50-41, on Sean Simon's basket with 10:27 to go.
STAC took 1:25 to score nine unanswered and get back within one, 49-50, but University of the Sciences kept the Spartans from coming back to tie it, 55-55, until the 5:36 mark.
Starr responded with a 3-point play 1:15 later, and after a Spartans jumper, a Tanner Kerr free throw gave the Devils a 59-57 advantage with 3:53 to play.
It took just nine seconds for St. Thomas Aquinas to finally breakthrough and take the lead on a 3-pointer, sparking a run of nine straight points that began a 14-5 run to end the contest.
USciences was held scoreless for nearly three minutes, and by the time Devan Rodman made two free throws to make the score 66-61 with 1:04 left, it was too little too late.
Kerr and Star combined for 33 points on 13-of-19 shooting, leading to a 50.0 percent shooting performance for the Devils.
Kerr fell one rebound shy of his second career double-double with a career-high 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting, surpassing his career-best in scoring for the third time in six contests.
Starr made 6-of-11 field goals en route to 16 points off the bench, and he added four rebounds and two assists.
Paddy Casey was also in double figures with 12 points, to go along with six rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Brendan Crawford led University of the Sciences with four assists, and he pulled down five boards.
USciences outrebounded St. Thomas Aquinas 38-30, but the Spartans forced 23 Devils turnovers that led to 25 of their points.
Trailing 19-10 midway through the first half, USciences fought all the way back to tie it at 31-31 on a Casey jumper in the final minute, before STAC took the lead into the locker room with a basket in the final 10 seconds.
The Spartans then scored the first basket of the second half, but University of the Sciences would go on an 11-3 spurt capped by a Casey layup to make the score 42-38 with 15:10 to go.
University of the Sciences is back at home on Tuesday, Dec. 4 to open its Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) schedule against Holy Family at 7:30 p.m.