LEICESTER, Mass. --- The Becker College men's basketball team lost 75-74 in overtime to visiting Anna Maria College on Wednesday night at the Leicester Gymnasium in the season opener for both Worcester county programs.
The Hawks of Becker (0-1) were led by junior guard Kareem Davis (Lowell, Mass. / St. John's) with 24 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals. Davis shot four-of-ten from behind the three-point-arc. After a slow start, senior forward Samuel Durodola (Rosedale, N.Y. / Campus Magnet) finished with 16 points and ten boards. Junior forward Daniel Flaherty Jr. (Warwick, R.I. / Bishop Hendricken) came through with 12 points in his first game as a Hawk, while junior forward Dewayne Thomas (Springfield, Mass. / Lowell) came off the bench to score ten points with a team-high 13 rebounds. Sophomore forward Donzell Cunningham (Linden, N.J. / Piscataway) chipped in six points and six boards.
Sophomore forward Mike Rapoza (Charlton, Mass./Shepherd Hill Regional) led the AMCATS of Anna Maria (1-0) with 18 points, a game-high 14 rebounds, six assists, two blocks and two steals. Freshman guard Ralph Grasso, Jr. (Marlborough, Mass./Assabet Valley Regional) scored 13 points, making three of his six three-point attempts. Senior forward Kenneth Graham (West Haven, Conn./West Haven) finished with 11 points and six rebounds, while junior forward Sidney Limage (Randolph, Mass./Archbishop Williams) came through with ten points, six rebounds and two blocks. Sophomore guard Bobby Perette (Marshfield, Mass./Marshfield) scored nine points off the bench, all off three-pointers.
The first half was a hotly contested defensive struggle with neither team able to pull away. Becker was trailing by one with 1:06 remaining when Thomas recovered his own put-back twice, finally laying it up to put the Hawks ahead 26-25. Back at the other end, Thomas blocked a layup and Becker got the rebound, quickly converting it into a Davis three-pointer. The hosts went into the break leading 29-25.
The second half saw both teams take to their respective offensive ends with renewed energy. The Hawks went ahead 39-31 off a Cunningham three-pointer with 15:50 to go in the game, then opened up their largest lead of the game when Thomas buried a jumper with 10:14 remaining to put Becker ahead 54-43. Anna Maria responded with an 11-2 run, capped off when Perette buried a three pointer with 7:56 left to pull the AMCATS to within two, 56-54. Then with 3:50 to go, Rapoza made a huge put-back to pull Anna Maria to within one at 62-61. Finally, with 1:14 to go, Graham was fouled on a short jumper and went to the line with the AMCATS still trailing by one. The senior missed the first but buried the second, tying it up at 64-64.
With 42.1 to go and the game on the line after a missed shot and Hawk offensive rebound, Becker head coach Brian Gorman called timeout and drew up a play for his young squad. A missed shot again made it into Becker's hands, with virtually no the margin of difference between the shot clock to the game clock. Davis missed a three with three seconds left and Thomas missed a put-back at the buzzer, and the game went into overtime
In the extra period, with the Hawks down one for the first time since the first half, Davis went to the line after being fouled a three-point attempt. The junior guard made the first, missed the second and appeared to make the third when Becker was called for a lane violation. The score was tied at 65-65 with 4:10 to go. Then with 3:16 left, Durodola was fouled on a put-back attempt. The 2017 NECC Player of the Year buried both free throw shots as the Hawks went ahead by two. With 2:19 remaining, Durodola was fouled again. The senior made them both, and Becker went up by four.
With two minutes to go, Anna Maria senior guard Liam Pickett (Oxford, Mass./Oxford) hit a three to pull the AMCATS back to within one. Less than a minute later, Grasso hit a clutch three out of a timeout as the visitors went ahead 71-69. After an AMCAT free throw and a missed Becker three, Becker was forced to foul with 28 ticks to go.
Junior forward Joseph Kwiatkowski (Hudson, N.H./Londonderry) made the second of two, and Becker rushed down the court, down by four. From the corner, Davis buried a three to pull the Hawks to within one, and the hosts again fouled with 20 seconds left. Kwiatkowski went to the line again, this time making both.
Down by three, Davis missed a three to tie it, but Thomas was there for a put-back and drew the foul. But the junior's shot was off and Becker was forced to foul with 3.4 to go. Rapoza missed both shots and the Hawks, out of timeouts, raced down the court. Thomas threw up a prayer at the buzzer but the ball went wide, as the instant classic came to an end.
The Hawks are back in action on Saturday when they go on the road to play Brandeis in a 4:00 p.m. game. The AMCATS play their next game on Friday at Wesleyan in the opening game of the Wesleyan Tournament at 6:00 p.m.
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