MANCHESTER, N.H. – Sophomore Chris Santo (Cherry Hill, N.J.) led all scorers with a career-high 23 points to lift the 15th-ranked Saint Anselm College men's basketball team to Wednesday night's 75-52 victory against Southern New Hampshire University at the SNHU Fieldhouse.
The Hawks record their 15th win in the last 17 contests, including 12 of 13 and five straight, to improve to 17-3 on the season and 13-3 in Northeast-10 play. That marks the best start for Saint Anselm since it went 18-2 to kick off the 1995-96 campaign. The Hawks defeat SNHU at home for the first time since Jan. 6, 2009 and earn their first two-game, regular-season sweep of the Penmen, who dip to 12-8, 8-8 NE-10, with the loss, since the 2005-06 campaign.
Santo was a machine inside, converting 9 of 13 baskets, while tallying four rebounds, three assists, a pair of blocks and a steal. He was also 5-for-8 at the line. Sophomore Roy Mabrey (Belmar, N.J.) netted 12 points and collected nine rebounds, while senior James Morse (Arundel, Maine) was also in double figures with 11 points (5-7 FG; 1-1 3-FG) to go along with six boards, three assists and two steals.
The first eight minutes of the game featured six lead changes and a pair of ties before Southern New Hampshire settled into a 19-15 lead at the 12:04 mark. The Hawks awoke at that point and seized control for good with an 11-0 run that saw five different players score points, including Morse, who canned a 3-pointer to close the run and make it 26-19 with 8:23 remaining.
SNHU had chipped it to three near the end of half when junior Dominic Borelli (Westbrook, Maine) dropped in a layup to put the Hawks on top, 32-27, with 2:09 on the clock. Phillip Tripodakis would miss a 3 from the top of the key at the buzzer and Saint Anselm went into the locker room with a five-point lead. It improved to 14-0 when leading at the half.
The Penmen cut it to three to begin the second half and trailed, 34-31, two minutes in when a 10-2 Saint Anselm run, which featured four points from Santo, opened the lead up to 44-33 just 5:21 in. SNHU fought back to get within 10 nearly four minutes later, but a Santo layup and a three-point play from Mabrey nudged the margin to 15 at 55-40 midway through the stanza.
A pair of B.J. Cardarelli layups keyed a 6-0 spurt for SNHU, but the Hawks responded by putting the game away, scoring 10 straight as part of a 20-5 stretch that gave them their largest lead of the night at 75-51 with 1:20 on the clock.
Santo sparked the run with five straight points before freshman Mike McCahey (Clarkstown, N.Y.) buried a 3-pointer that ballooned the gap to 17. Santo then added a pair at the line before a McCahey three-point play followed a Nicola Canic layup and brought the score to 68-48 with 3:22 to go.
After Canic made one of two at the line, layups from Morse and junior John Nielsen (Port Jefferson, N.Y.) made it 72-49 with just over two minutes remaining. Kostas Mantalvanos dropped in a layup before Nielsen drilled a 3-pointer to close the run. Mantalvanos closed the scoring with a free throw with 14 ticks left.
Junior Dino Mallios (Winthrop, Mass.) registered eight points (3-6 FG; 2-2 FT), nine assists, four rebounds and two steals. Borelli also chipped in eight points on a perfect 4-for-4 shooting performance and pulled down three boards. Nielsen hit for seven points (3-5 FG; 1-3 3-FG), while McCahey posted six points and five rebounds.
Saint Anselm outshot SNHU, 50.9 percent (29-57) to 33.3 percent (19-57), including 33.3 percent (4-12) to 21.1 percent (4-19) from beyond the arc and 61.5 percent (16-26) to 34.6 percent (9-26) in the second half. The Hawks controlled both the paint (40-28) and the boards (43-29). The Penmen turned it over just 10 times, compared to 12 for Saint Anselm, but the Hawks were more opportunistic as they held a 15-5 advantage in points off turnovers.
C.J. Marriro paced the Penmen with 14 points.
The Hawks return to action Saturday, Feb. 9 at 3:30 p.m. when they play host to Bentley University at Stoutenburgh Gymnasium. Stay up-to-date with the latest news, including game previews and recaps, directly from the Saint Anselm College athletic department by liking us on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/STAHawks) and following us on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/STAHawks).