Mass. College Hoops: Anna Maria Falls Short In GNAC Championship

By NoontimeSports.com 

Courtesy of the Anna Maria College sports information department, here’s this evening’s release from the men’s basketball game this afternoon. The AMCATs fell short of winning a Great Northeast Athletic Conference crown as Albertus Magnus defeated the hosts:

PAXTON, Mass. (02.23.13) – Junior Darius Watson (New Britain, CT) scored 34 points and grabbed 12 rebound to led the #2 seed Albertus Magnus men’s basketball team to an 87-80 victory over #1 seed Anna Maria College in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Championship on Saturday afternoon at the Fuller Activities Center.

With the win the Falcons (24-4) become the first team since Norwich University in ’04-05, ’05-06 to win back-to-back conference titles, while the AMCATS snap a 17-game winning streak and drop to 20-8.

Anna Maria’s Anthony Click (Springfield, MA) and Brad Peterson (North Kingstown, RI) each notched double-doubles for the AMCATS. The senior captain poured in a team-high17 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, dished out 5 assists and made 3 steals, number 40 also notched 17 points on 7-for-13 shooting and pulled down 11 boards. Starters Joseph Barillo (Dania Beach, FLA) and Javier Bristol (Haverhill, MA) each added 10 points for the AMCATS in the loss.

Pacing the Falcons, senior Jefferson Lora (Bronx, NY) contributed 11 points and 9 rebounds while freshman James Jennings (Stratford, CT) also scored in double figures adding 17 points on 4-for-9 from beyond the three point mark.

The AMCATS started slow out of the gates as Albertus opened with consecutive baskets by Lora and Jennings for a quick 5-0 lead. Anna Maria then responded with a 12-0 run en route to a 12-5 advantage with 13:47 on the clock. Click was instrumental during the run, accounting for nine of the AMCATS’ twelve points.

Albertus stopped the run with a jumper in the paint by Lora to cut the deficit to 12-7 but again the AMCATS responded with a strong 8-1 run for a 20-8 advantage and their biggest lead of the game with just over ten minutes to play in the half.

The Falcons would chip away at the lead answering with a 14-2 streak to tie the game at 22-all with 5:08 remaining in the first stanza. The teams would trade baskets down the stretch, with Watson scoring eight of the final ten points of the half for Albertus. Anna Maria countered with a trifecta from Barillo and a pair of Hugh Daye (Worcester, MA) free-throws to carry a 36-32 lead into intermission.

Trailing to start the second half, Albertus outscored the AMCATS 8-2 and with 17:20 to play in the game we had a tied ballgame at 40-40.  Bristol hit a jumper in the paint to gain the two point advantage for the AMCATS but Jennings responded with a NBA 3-pointer to give the Falcons their first lead of the second half at 43-42.

AMCAT Joey Barillo sank a trey of his own and Click hit one-of-two from the charity stripe to push the AMCATS ahead 48-46. On the ensuing play Watson, after being fouled underneath, sank two freebies to tie the game at 48-48 with 14 minutes still to play. The two teams traded buckets and were still tied 63-63 with 6:57 remaining.

With 6:19 ticks on the clock, the Falcons then erupted to score eleven unanswered points, opening up a 12-point cushion at 77-65. Albertus’ Watson was a key factor in the run, contributing 6 points, while Jennings added the other five.

Anna Maria refused to go quietly; five consecutive free throws from Daye, Tyler Delorey (Worcester, MA) and Click cut the Falcon lead to 81-76 with just under a minute to  play but AMCATS couldn’t get any closer than five points finally falling 87-80 to the visiting Falcons.

Anna Maria held the slight shooting advantage on the night 43.8% to Albertus’ 40.3%. Albertus connected on ten three-pointers to just three for the AMCATS. Anna Maria out rebounded the Falcons 46-41.

With the win Albertus qualifies for the NCAA Division III tournament, selection announcement is set for Monday afternoon at 12:30pm. Anna Maria will wait until Monday evening for an ECAC Tournament invitation.

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