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POUGHKEEPSIE – The top two teams in the Liberty League squared off for the second time this season, but it was visiting RPI coming out ahead with the 60-57 victory on Saturday afternoon. No team led by more than seven points, with the game coming to the final minute. Vassar moves to 14-6 overall and 10-4 in the conference with the loss. RPI currently sits in first place at 16-4 overall and 10-3 in the Liberty League.
The Brewers jumped out to a 5-0 lead following a jumper by Avni Mustafaj and then a triple from Kevin McAuliffe. When he scored inside, Jack Rothenberg pushed the lead to 7-2. Vassar took a seven-point lead when Mustafaj netted four-straight points, but RPI’s Avery Eugster responded with four points to make it 11-8.
Vassar continued to hold a slight lead until a fastbreak layup by Jonny Angazo lessened the lead to two, and then Angbazo sank a pair of free throws to tie 14-14 at 9:34. Mustafaj helped the Brewers retake the lead, but Eugster hit a three-pointer at 6:59 to give the Engineers their first advantage at 19-17. McAuliffe answered with a trey, and it was a back-and-forth affair after with neither side pulling away. Three ties followed, and with the score at 27-27, RPI scored the following three points. Mustafaj closed out the half, scoring on two jump shots to give the Brewers a 31-30 lead at the break.
In the second, the teams traded baskets until Anbazo sank a jumper to begin a 6-0 Engineers run until Zach Johnson broke the streak at 15:55. More of the same followed, and Mustafaj found Logan Scott for an open triple at 12:10 to put the Brewers ahead 47-46. Will Fredericks scored the next RPI possession, and then both teams had a three-minute scoring drought. Angbazo gave the Engineers a three-point lead when he netted a layup at 8:13.
The final five minutes showed that it was going to be close until the final buzzer, and after Mustafaj converted a pair of free throws, the Brewers led 57-56 with 1:10 remaining. Dom Black scored for RPI, and the Brewers turned the ball over and were forced to foul. Black made his free throws putting the score at 60-57 with ten seconds left, and the Brewers could not get another shot off.
Mustafaj led Vassar scoring 19 points, and added six rebounds. Rothenberg and McAuliffe each tacked on 12 points, with McAuliffe going 4-of-5 from three-point range. Johnson was in some early foul trouble but grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.
Angbazo topped the Engineers by netting 25 points on 10-of-14 shooting, while Patrick Mahoney scored 10. Mason Memmelaar collected eight rebounds.
Vassar plays its final two home games of the regular season this weekend. The Brewers first face off against RIT on Fri. Feb. 11 at 7:30 p.m.