Case Western Reserve University freshman forward Ryan Newton scored 14 of his career-high 17 points in the second half and added four blocks, but a late run by Thomas More University pushed the Saints past the Spartans 81-74 on Saturday afternoon at Horsburgh Gymnasium.
The loss dropped the Spartans to 4-2 on the year, while Thomas More improved to 4-4 with the victory.
With CWRU's top-scorer, sophomore Ignas Masiulionis, limited to just nine minutes in the game, the Spartans' bench came up big in the contest, outscoring Thomas More's reserves 45-14. Newton's 17 points led all CWRU scorers, as the freshman connected on seven-of-13 shots, while adding three rebounds and two assists. Junior guard Monty Khela scored 14 points off the bench and led all Spartans with six rebounds, and sophomore guard Antonio Ionadi made three of his six shots from long range, finishing the game with 11 points. Sophomore guard Michael Volkening was the lone CWRU start in double figures, scoring 12 points on a five-for-10 shooting effort.
Thomas More made seven of their first 10 shots from the floor, and took a nine-point lead, 16-7, just six minutes into the game. Khela came off the bench to spur a CWRU comeback, scoring seven-straight points in the game with a pair of threes and a free throw to tie the game at 19-19 with 9:16 to play in the opening period. The Spartans run continued, with junior forward Michael Hollis giving CWRU its first lead since the opening minute of the game a lead on a layup, and a three-pointer by Ionadi putting the Spartans ahead 24-19 with 7:34 left in the first half, capping off the 12-0 CWRU spurt. The Spartans would maintain a lead until the final minute of the first half, when Thomas More tied the contest with a free throw, but one of three blocks in the first half by Newton led to a three-pointer at the buzzer by junior guard Sam Hansen to put CWRU in front 36-33 heading into halftime.
Khela shot three-of-five from long range in the first half, and finished the opening period with a team-high 10 points.
Case Western Reserve maintained their momentum early in the second half. Volkening connected on a three on the Spartans first possession of the period, and a layup by Hollis the next time down court pushed CWRU's lead to eight, 41-33. CWRU would take a game-high 10-point lead, 59-49, on a layup by Newton with 9:36 to playm but the Saints would not go away. Thomas More remained close, and pulled back within a point, 64-63, with 6:06 to play, eventually tying the game at 68-68 on a layup with 3:50 left. A three-pointer with 3:05 to play in the game gave the Saints their first lead since the first half, and was part of an 18-6 victory-clinching run to close the game by Thomas More.
Ralph Stone and Damion King each scored 17 points to lead the Saints, with Stone also notching 12 rebounds to record the double-double.
The loss was the first of the season at home for the Spartans.
Next up for the Spartans will be a road game at Adrian College in Adrian, Michigan on Tuesday, December 4th. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.