NEWTON, Mass. – Lasell College overcame a sluggish first half Thursday evening, rallying from an eight-point halftime deficit to defeat Anna Maria College, 64-55, in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) men's basketball game at the Lasell Athletic Center.
Junior Tim Blair (Newington, Conn) matched his season-high with 26 points to lead the Lasers, including 11 in the first half when the team scored a season-low 19 points. He added 15 in a 45-point second half for the winners, finishing 9-of-17 from the field and 5-of-12 from three-point range. Sophomore Stefan Masciarelli (Northbridge, Mass), who scored 36 points in a win at Anna Maria two weeks ago, chipped in with 14 points as the Lasers improve to 6-8 overall and 4-1 in the GNAC.
Sophomore Mike Rapoza (Charlton, Mass.) was a force for the visitors, finishing with 19 points and 11 rebounds for his eighth straight double-double and 12th on the season. Senior Kenneth Graham (West Haven, Conn.) added 13 points and nine boards, and classmate Chris Contento (Marshfield, Mass.) contributed 11 points as the Amcats fell to 4-11 overall and 1-5 in conference play.
Both teams struggled offensively in the first half, as Lasell needed nearly six minutes to get on the scoreboard on a lay-up by senior Scott Arsenault (Walpole, Mass.), but trailed only 6-2. Anna Maria led 14-2 at the 10-minute mark, thanks to five points by Rapoza and four from Graham. The Amcats led by 12 again (22-10) with five minutes to go, but Blair scored five points in the last minute and a half to cut the deficit to 27-19 at the intermission.
Anna Maria had the lead up to 11 early in the second half (30-19) but the Lasers went on a 15-4 run over the next four-and-a-half minutes to tie the score at 34-all. Blair hit three straight shots from beyond the arc during the burst and Masciarelli made a pair of baskets.
Lasell score seven unanswered points midway through the half to push its lead up to eight points (49-41) with 7:34 on the clock. The Lasers maintained the lead the rest of the way, as Anna Maria could get no closer than six points. The lead was double digits in the final minute before Lasell settled for the nine-point victory.
Lasell shot 40 percent in the second half after a 25-percent first half (32.3 percent overall), while Anna Maria connected at a 30 percent clip for the night.
The Lasers, which have won four of their five games in January and hold second place in the GNAC, face a tough challenge Saturday at 3:00 p.m. at league-leading Albertus Magnus College (10-4, 7-0). Anna Maria is also on the road Saturday, visiting Saint Joseph's College (Maine) for a 3:00 p.m. conference matchup.
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