PAXTON, Mass. – Four different Rams notched double figures as the Suffolk men's basketball team secured a GNAC post-season trip with a 77-73 victory over Anna Maria at the Athletic Center Tuesday Night.
SCORE: Suffolk 77, Anna Maria 73
RECORDS: Suffolk (7-17, 6-11 GNAC) | Anna Maria (4-20, 4-13 GNAC)
HOW IT HAPPENED
The first 20 minutes were a back-and-forth affair as the lead swapped nine times and the scored equalized on seven occasions. Anna Maria started out in front before the tides shifted in Suffolk's favor. After a Rams timeout Michael Hagopian got things going with a traditional three-point play. The sophomore followed that with a baby jumper and his classmate Jim Djema gave the blue-and-gold its first edge of the day, 18-17, thanks to a layup.
Suffolk would not remain in front for long with the AMCATS going ahead on their next possession. From there the hosts, would gain a four-point advantage twice, but the Rams would not fall further back. Trailing 33-31, Kevin Querusio jump started an 8-0 run that reserved roles and put Suffolk in front by four, 37-33.
Anna Maria talked things over in a full timeout with 2:52 remaining before the intermission and the AMCATS trimmed the Rams lead to two with 2:38 on the clock. Neither team found the hoop over the next 2:17 before Anna Maria broke the lull to lock things at 37-all. Hagopian's second traditional three-point play of the day regained the advantage for the Rams, but similar to how the entire first half went, the AMCATS responded at the buzzer with a triple to send the teams into the locker room tied at 40-all.
Similar see-saw action opened up the second half before a Thomas Duffy hoop combined with a trey from Jonathan Eng put Suffolk ahead by four, 47-43. The Rams remained in front and took a six-point edge, their largest of the night at the time five minutes into the second stanza thanks to Duffy.
Despite comeback efforts from the AMCATS, Suffolk's well-balanced attack combined with a stifling defensive effort kept the visitors in charge of the contest. Anna Maria was able to trim the deficit to one twice with under three to play and at the 1:57 minute mark.
Jeff Juron took a timeout to simmer Suffolk down and talk game plan. The break worked in the Rams favor, who used clutch free throw shooting by Duffy to make it a 74-69 game in Suffolk's favor with 22 seconds to play.
Jonathan Eng split a trip at the charity stripe and back-to-back layups by the AMCATS made it a two-point contest with one second on the clock. Out of an Anna Maria timeout, the hosts fouled Duffy and sent the freshman to the line once again. He did not falter under pressure, putting away the pair of freebies to punch the Rams ticket to the GNAC playoffs, 77-73.
- Duffy led the way with a game-high 22 points, shooting 7-for-9 from the field, including 2-for-3 from downtown and 6-for-9 at the free throw line. The freshman forward set-up five other shots and paced the Rams defensively with seven rebounds, three steals and one block.
- Hagopian was one point shy of 20 with 19 on a 50 percent (6-12) connection rate and a perfect 6-for-6 showing at the foul line. He chipped in three caroms, two takeaways and one assist.
- Djema put up 12 point thanks to a 55.6 connection rate (5-9) from the field to go along with four assists, four boards, two blocks and two steals.
- Grillakis rounded out the quartet of Rams in double figures with 10. The rookie could not miss from the floor, knocking down all five of his attempts.
- Kevin Querusio was one hoop shy of making it a handful of Suffolk players in double digits with the sophomore pitching in eight points on a 4-for-7 effort.
- Suffolk shot a season high 59.2 percent from the field (29-49), 41.7 percent (5-12) from three-point range and knocked down 77.8 percent (14-18) of its trips to the foul line.
- The AMCATS held a small upperhand on the glass, 28-21, and scored more than half their points (40) in the paint.
- Suffolk swept the two-game, regular-season series with Anna Maria for the first time. The Rams trimmed the AMCATS all-time series lead to
- Hagopian and Duffy are the first Rams to drop 20 points in a game since Matt Duquette and Jake Mesiter scored 20 and 28, respectively, in an 88-58 win over Norwich, Feb. 6, 2016.
- Duffy had a career-night with career-bests in points (16), assists (5) and steals (3) and matching a career-high in blocks (1).
Suffolk treks to Standish, Maine, Saturday, Feb. 18 for a 3 p.m. regular-season finale at St. Joseph's (Maine).