Spartan Men’s Basketball Tops Daemen 72-66, Earns No. 6-Seed


The Spartans earned victory despite Daemen’s persistent attempts to knock them off their lead (Image credit: STAC Athletics).

Malik Lucas, Contributor

STAC’s men’s basketball team earned a No. 6-seed in the NCAA tournament and plays No. 3 Southern New Hampshire University Saturday at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire.

The two teams did not play each other this season, and have only matched up against each other three times in the history of both programs. STAC holds a 2-1 edge in the series.

This is STAC’s eighth consecutive appearance in the tournament and Matthew Capell’s first since taking over as head coach this season.

The Spartans earned a spot in the field of 64 with a 72-66 win over Daemen University in the finals of the ECC tournament Sunday.

The matchup with Daemen was a clash of two of the east region’s top programs.

The Spartans managed to get an 8-0 lead over the Wildcats with buckets from Jamal Barnes, DeVante Jamison, and James Patterson. 

Fifteen minutes into the first half, freshman guard Kyle Pulliam knocked down a three-pointer to give STAC the 10-point lead (13-3). 

Daemen then went on an 8-2 run, getting the lead down to 4 points (15-11). Both teams traded buckets and with just under four minutes left in the first half the score was 25-25. 

Jamison and Antonio Vendola then scored back-to-back baskets, giving the Spartans back the lead at 29-25. The Wildcats then hit a three from downtown, giving STAC a one-point lead (29-28).

Once again, Vendola would find his way to the basket, putting the Spartans up three (31-28). The Wildcats showed no sign of quitting, knocking down another shot from downtown and tying the game at 31-31 going into the half.

Both teams returned to the hardwood for what would arguably be the best half of basketball the Spartans have played this season. In the second half, Patterson’s jumper gave STAC the lead, 33-31, but it would be short-lived as another Daemen three put them ahead 34-33.

The second half was highlighted by back-and-forth action for the next seven minutes, with both teams matching each other’s offensive output. With just over 12 minutes left in regulation, the Spartans managed to get a one-point lead over the Wildcats making the score 43-42.

STAC would go on to score 12 more points, with buckets from Vendola, Patterson, Barnes, Jamison, and Richard Smith. The 13-2 run had STAC up by 12 (56-44). 

Daemen would eventually close the gap, making the score 56-49 with just over five minutes left to play.

Late in the game, Daemen tried to rally back, but the Spartans hung in, helped by the play of Luis Risquez, Jamison, and Patterson on both sides of the ball..

It was STAC’s fourth straight ECC championship.