NEWTON, Mass. – In a battle between two teams tied for fourth place in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC), Anna Maria College pulled out an 88-80 victory over Lasell University Saturday afternoon at the Lasell Athletic Center.
The win pushed the Amcats to 10-13 overall and 6-3 in the GNAC, while Lasell drops to 8-15 overall and 5-4 in conference play.
Both teams had all five starters score in double figures, and both teams shot at least 50 percent from the field. Lasell connected on 50 percent (34-of-68) and Anna Maria hit at a 54.7 clip (35-of-64).
Junior Kevin Vanderhorst (Lawrence, Mass.) led the way for the Lasers with his 14th double-double of the season, totaling 19 points and 16 rebounds. Junior Kevin Nunez (Dorchester, Mass.) finished with 18 points, and classmate Jonathan Friberg (North Attleboro, Mass.) was one rebound shy of a double-double with 17 points and nine boards. Sophomore EJ Day (Norwalk, Conn.) and junior Keith Poitier (Hartford, Conn.) added 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Senior Mike Rapoza (Charlton, Mass.) topped the visitors with his 19th double-double of the season as he scored 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting and collected 16 rebounds. Sophomore Kennedy Minix-Rogers (Smyrna, Ga.) was next with 16 points, followed by freshman Jakai Alexandre (Fitchburg, Mass.) with 13 and senior Bobby Perette (Marshfield, Mass.) and junior Ralph Grasso, Jr. (Marlborough, Mass.) with 10 points each.
The Amcats led most of the first half, but Lasell tied the score at 26-all on a Friberg basketball with five minutes remaining. The Lasers were down by just one point, 34-33 with a minute to go but Anna Maria went on an 8-2 run in the final minute to take a 42-35 lead into the intermission. Vanderhorst, Friberg and Nunez all had 11 points at the break for Lasell, while Rapoza had 10 points and 11 boards for the Amcats.
Anna Maria extended its lead to 10 points, 50-40, early in the second half, and led by as many as 14 midway through the second half. Lasell staged a comeback attempt, pulling to within seven points (73-66) with just under five minutes to play, but the visitors answered with six straight points and stopped all Lasers comeback attempts the rest of the way.
Both teams play GNAC games again on Tuesday, February 18, as Lasell hosts Johnson & Wales University in the final host game of the regular season at 8 p.m. and Anna Maria travels to league-leading Saint Joseph (Connecticut) for a 7:30 p.m. affair.
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