BENNINGTON >> Early in the fourth quarter, Rutland pulled within one point against Mount Anthony in Saturday's girls basketball matchup at Kates Gym.
MAU coach Brian Harrington took a timeout and made one thing very clear to his team.
"I told them we're not even focused, everyone's laughing and joking around," Harrington said. "Well, it's a new game now. It's not life or death, but it's basically a must-win with the position we're in, we have to beat teams ahead of us."
The Patriots responded immediately, finishing the game on a 23-2 run to top Rutland, 57-35.
"We've had good quarters against Rice and CVU, but this was our best quarter we've played here," Harrington said.
Mount Anthony took an early lead and held it throughout, eventually getting to the end of the third quarter with a 34-31 advantage.
Rutland's Elise Magro scored the first basket of the fourth quarter to make it 34-33 before the timeout.
After that, it was like a switch flipped on as the Patriots ratcheted up the pressure, forcing turnovers on a handful of possessions in a row and taking a 43-33 lead after two Brianna Legacy free throws.
Legacy led all scorers with 16 points, while Madison Little added 14 — 12 in the second half.
On the next possession, MAU got Rutland to commit a 5-second violation and Little hit a two for a 45-33 lead. Little and Frasier hit back-to-back threes shortly after to make it 51-33.
"We made our shots in the fourth," Little said. "The third [quarter] was rough, we started to get down at that point. We were playing man to man and were getting confused when they were switching in and out. We needed to step it up and clamp down on defense."
Magro led the Raiders with 11 points.
"Sometimes we have nights like that, we're trying to find consistency," said Rutland coach Nathan Bellomo. "We had a good second and third quarter, in the fourth, we had no consistency. They got some quick baskets in the fourth and MAU does a good job of turning you over."
Early on, neither team could find a rhythm as the first quarter ended with MAU ahead 8-2, but the second quarter was better for both, with each scoring 13 points as MAU took a 21-15 lead into halftime.
Rutland outscored MAU 16-13 in the third as the game became very physical, including injuries for players on both teams.
"It was too physical for a girls basketball game," Harrington said. "There's clearly a line. My whole issue — and I'm not chastising the officials, but if they call ticky tack fouls on an illegal screen away from the ball, a play where no one gets hurt, and then I have someone blatantly get pushed down on their face in front of them, and don't blow the whistle, that's an issue. We'll deal with it, hopefully the injuries won't plague us down the road."
Mount Anthony improves to 6-8, while Rutland dropped to 7-8. The Patriots have four straight road games starting on Tuesday against Burr and Burton Academy, then they travel to Brattleboro on Friday.