NASHUA, N.H. – Friday evening, the AMCATS travelled to New Hampshire to square off against Rivier University in a big Great Northeast Athletic Conference game that, with a win, would put Anna Maria a full game ahead of Mount Ida in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference with two games left to play. From the onset, the AMCATS knew what they had to do and by the end of the forty minutes, left the Granite State with a 99-70 victory.
The AMCATS were led by sophomore forward Mike Rapoza (Charlton, Mass) who scored 21 points and pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds for his 20th double-double of the year. Mike shot eight-of-10 from the field and went five-for-six from the free throw line. Senior forward Kenneth Graham (West Haven, Conn) scored 17 point on the evening while also grabbing eight caroms. Graham also recorded three steals in the game. Coming off the bench and scoring 17 points was junior guard Sidney Limage (Randolph, Mass). Limage was five-for-six shooting from the field. Adding eight points apiece to the AMCATS tally were senior guard Liam Pickett (Oxford, Mass) and junior guard Joe Kwiatkowski (Hudson, N.H.). Kwiatkowski also grabbed five rebounds in his 15 minutes off the bench.
For the Raiders, freshman guard Tarik Rivers (Stamford, Conn) led all scorers with a game-high 23 points. Sophomore guard Twistan Givens (Windsor, Conn) was the only other starter in double-digits for Rivier with 15 points on the night. Coming off of the bench for the Raiders and scoring 10 points was sophomore guard Kirk Palladino (Milford, N.H.).
Right from tip-off, the AMCATS controlled this game. Graham opened the scoring just two seconds in with two made free throws after a foul by the Raiders. Over the next eight minutes, Anna Maria went on a 23-0 run before Rivers scored the first Raider points at the 12:00 mark of the half. At that point, the Raiders did grab a little of the momentum back from the 'Cats as they scored nine of the next 14 total points. Rivier wouldn't reach double-digit points until there were eight and a half minutes left on the first half clock. At that point, the AMCATS still held a 19-point lead, 30-11. Though the Raiders would slowly continue to close the original 23-point Anna Maria lead, the 'Cats held a resounding lead all the way through the first half and at the end of the first 20 minutes AMC went to the locker room with a commanding 51-31 lead over their hosts.
The second half scoring was again opened by the AMCATS, this time Rapoza making a bucket 45 seconds in. The Raiders scored a quick six points to begin the half but over the first 11 minutes of the period the AMCATS would go on a 29-8 run essentially cementing their victory over the Raiders. The AMCATS would reach the 90-point mark with 5:50 remaining in the game. Their scoring trend would slow there as they went more defensive. Rivier was unable to get anything going and were not able to overcome the large deficit that Anna Maria has created for them. When all was said and done, the AMCATS walk out of the gym with their fourth win in a row, 99-70 over the Raiders. It was their eighth win overall, their fifth conference win and they have now separated themselves from Mount Ida for the final spot in the Conference playoffs by a full game with two games to play.
Up next for Anna Maria will be a showdown at home against the nine seed, Mount Ida College Mustangs on Tuesday evening at 6pm in the Fuller Center.