BOSTON, Mass – Thursday night, the AMCATS travelled to Boston for the first of two meetings this month against Emmanuel College which was also a pivotal game for both teams in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference playoff race. Though the AMCATS had trouble holding their lead they had at half time, at the end of the 40 minutes the 'Cats left Boston with the 79-75 victory.
For the AMCATS, senior guard Liam Pickett (Oxford, Mass) and sophomore forward Mike Rapoza (Charlton, Mass) led the scoring with 22 points each. For Pickett, that total matched his career-high which he originally recorded against Albertus Magnus College last season. Liam shot eight-of-15 from the field and was five-for-10 from three-point range. Rapoza pulled down a game-high 21 rebounds as well to record his 17th double-double of the season while also blocking three shots on the night. Mike shot seven-for-11 from the field and was eight-for-10 from the free throw line. For the second game in a row, senior guard Chris Contento (Marshfield, Mass) assisted his teammates a career-high 11 times.
For the Saints, three players reached double-digits. Sophomore guard Emmett Riddick (Middletown, Conn) led the way with a 19-point effort on eight-of-13 shooting. Scoring 10 points apiece were freshman guard Zachary Crisafulli (Easthampton, Mass) and junior guard Joe Tamburro (South Windsor, Conn).
The two teams were evenly matched coming in to the game and it showed on the court Thursday night. Pickett opened the scoring 24 seconds in with a three pointer which he followed up with another three 30 seconds later to put the 'Cats up 6-2 a minute in. After the first three and a half minutes the AMCATS had gone on a 13-4 run. That nine-point lead would be the highest of the night for the AMCATS as the Saints slowly closed the gap getting within two at the 12:39 mark. Emmanuel would keep pace staying within five points until Pickett hit a big three with two and a half remaining in the half to put his team up by seven. It was the second biggest lead of the night for the 'Cats and it would be the turning point for the Saints as the hosts went on a 9-2 run to end the first half as this one went to the break, 40-40.
The second half was opened by sophomore guard Bobby Perette (Marshfield, Mass) who hit a three-pointer 15 seconds in to give his team the lead once again. After a number of positive possessions for the Saints and a few missed shots by the AMCATS, Emmanuel took their first lead of the night, 49-48, at the 15:26 mark with a two-pointer from Crisafulli. Following a back and forth, the AMCATS jumped out to a four-point advantage with back-to-back buckets from junior guard Sidney Limage (Randolph, Mass) with just over 11 minutes to play. With 6:29 on the clock the Saints would take their biggest lead of the evening, 66-62, after a three from Riddick. The AMCATS were finding it tough to keep up with their opponents as the Saints would hold the lead until there was just 32 seconds left on the clock. Perette hit a three-pointer, arguably the biggest shot of the game, to give the 'Cats the 76-75 lead. Next time down the court for Emmanuel, needing just a two-pointer, Riddick missed his shot which was pulled down by senior forward Kenneth Graham (West Haven, Conn). He was immediately fouled and sent to the line as the Saints had no fouls to give. Graham would go on to hit both of his freebees to give his team a three-point lead. Once again, Emmanuel had an opportunity to tie the game but they missed their three-point attempt and again fouled, this time, Pickett, with only two seconds remaining. Liam hit the front-end of the one-and-one to seal the deal for the AMCATS, 79-75.
Up next for the AMCATS, a trip back to Boston on Tuesday the 6th of February for their second matchup in seven days with Suffolk University whom they beat last Tuesday, 75-69.
Click Here to view the full box score from Thursday's game.