PAXTON, Mass – Tuesday night the Rivier University Raiders came to Paxton for a GNAC showdown between teams who had yet to get their first conference win of the season. At the end of the evening the AMCATS came away with their first conference victory sinking the Raiders, 105-87.
For the AMCATS, senior forward Kenneth Graham (West Haven, Conn) had a stellar night for the home team. He scored 10 points, on five-of-eight shooting, grabbed 10 boards and assisted his teammates 11 times for his first career triple-double. Recording his 11th double-double of the season was sophomore forward Mike Rapoza (Charlton, Mass), with 22 points and 19 rebounds for the AMCATS. Rapoza shot eight-for-12 from the field and was six-of-nine at the free throw line. Joining Graham and Rapoza in double-digit scoring were senior guard Liam Pickett (Oxford, Mass) and sophomore guard Bobby Perette (Marshfield, Mass) who each added 17 to the 'Cats tally. Perette shot three-for-six from beyond the arch with most of the assists on those threes coming from fellow Marshfield native, senior guard, Chris Contento. Having his best night of his young career, freshman guard Ralph Grasso, Jr. (Marlborough, Mass) scored a career-high nine points, pulled down three rebounds and dished out three assists.
On the other end of the floor for the Raiders, sophomore guard Tristan Givens (Windsor, Conn) led all scorers in the game with 29 points. He also had four rebounds, four assists and two block on the night. Sophomore guard Issaiah Chappell (Sunapee, N.H.) scored 22 for the visitors on seven-of-14 shooting and went six-for-nine from the charity stripe. Also in double-digits for the Raiders was freshman guard Tarik Rivers (Stamford, Conn) who added 14 points for his team. Rivers also had nine assists.
In the first half, the AMCATS went on an 8-0 run to begin things before the Raiders got on the board with a three from sophomore forward Josh O'Loughlin (Milford, N.H.) at the 17:16 mark. From there, Rivier slowly closed the gap, getting back within three points four minutes in to the game. That's when the AMCATS really took hold of the momentum getting back-to-back layups from Rapoza, a three from Perette and a drive and score from Grasso, which extended their lead to 10 points. The Raiders were able to keep the score relatively close until the six-minute mark when it seemed like the AMCATS couldn't miss. The 'Cats would extend their lead out to 16 points after two made free throws from Pickett and a pull up jumper from senior guard Tanner Jakola (Leominster, Mass). As the half came to a close the scoring slowed for both teams but, Rivier were able to get some points back as this one went to the half, 48-35. In the half, Anna Maria scored 20 of their points in the paint while Rivier scored 11 of their points off of AMC turnovers.
The second half scoring was opened by the AMCATS with Contento grabbing a bucket 15 seconds in. Givens would hit a three for the visitors and that was their only scoring until the 16:00 mark. In the first four minutes the 'Cats went on an 11-3 run and opened their lead to 21 points. From that point the teams exchanged baskets for the next six minutes with the Raiders keeping pace until a three-pointer by Pickett put AMC up 73-51 with 10:37 remaining in regulation. From there it was more of the same from the AMCATS as they got some of the bench players in to the mix who all helped the home team score over 100 points for the first time this season. Though Rivier put up a fight at the end and didn't go away until the final buzzer sounded, the AMCATS walked away with their first GNAC win, and their first home win of the season, 104-87.
Up next for the AMCATS will be a trip to Lasell to take on the Lasers on Thursday night at 7pm. This will be the second meeting of the season between Anna Maria and Lasell.
Click Here to see the full box score from tonight's game.