Worcester, Mass. - Clark University raced out
to a 17-0 lead only to see it whittled down to three late in the
second half before going on a game-clinching 7-0 run to push them
past visiting Anna Maria College, 54-46 on Tuesday evening at the
Kneller Athletic Center.
With the win, the Cougars improve to 4-1 - their best start since 2006-07 - and the four wins in November are the most in the eleventh month since they started 4-1 in 2000-01 en route to their second of two trips to the Elite Eight under head coach Paul Phillips.
Anna Maria, meanwhile, slips to 0-4.
Clark opened the game holding the AMCATS scoreless for the first 8:50 of the game, as Anna Maria missed their first eleven shots and committed eight turnovers before making their first basket.
The Cougars had a chance to put the AMCATS away but they struggled from the field in the opening 20 minutes as well, connecting on just of 11 of their 29 first half shots, including a 2-for-11 performance from behind the arc.
Clark went into the half up by 12 at 26-14 and then watched as its lead slowly evaporated behind Anna Maria's Derek Johnson (Worcester, Mass.), who scored 15 of his game-high 17 in the second half.
With the score 45-42 following a pair of Johnson free throws, Clark scored seven straight points in a 1:20 span highlighted by a Chris LoPiano (Franklin Square, N.Y.) three-pointer and capped by a Mark Alexander (Providence, R.I.) jumper to give the Cougars a ten point bulge at 52-42 with 3:34 left.
Clark held the AMCATS to just 31 percent shooting and forced 17 turnovers. Neither team shot well from behind the arc, combining to go just 8-for-39.
Johnson was the only Anna Maria player in double figures, while Ryan Joyal (Marlboro, Mass.) chipped in with nine points, seven rebounds and three assists in 31 minutes.
The Cougars meanwhile were led by Alexander's 15 points and five rebounds and Brian Vayda (Sturbridge, Mass.), who registered his seventh career double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Clark returns to action on Tuesday, December 1 when it entertains Brandeis beginning at 7:00 p.m.