LOWELL, Mass. – Sophomore Chris Santo (Cherry Hill, N.J.) poured in a career-high 26 points to lead the 12th-ranked Saint Anselm College men's basketball team to Wednesday evening's 80-65 victory against the University of Massachusetts Lowell at Costello Athletic Center.
The Hawks win for the eighth time in their last nine games – and 15th time in the previous 17 – to improve to 20-4 on the season and 16-4 in Northeast-10 play. Head coach Keith Dickson posts the 12th 20-win season of his 27-year Saint Anselm career. The River Hawks drop to 14-10, 10-10 NE-10.
Santo shot 10 of 14 from the field and 6 of 14 at the line, while making a career-best five steals and collecting six rebounds. Freshman Mike McCahey (Clarkstown, N.Y.) recorded 17 points (5-14 FG; 1-4 3-FG; 6-7 FT), eight boards and two assists, while sophomore Roy Mabrey (Belmar, N.J.) was also in double figures with 13 points (6-14 FG; 1-6 3-FG) and five rebounds.
Trailing 4-2 just over four minutes in, the Hawks scored nine straight to grab an 11-4 lead with 12:58 remaining in the opening half. Junior Dino Mallios (Winthrop, Mass.) sparked the run with a straightaway 3-pointer that gave the Hawks the lead for good. Santo followed with two straight layups before a runner in the lane by Mabrey capped the stretch.
UMass Lowell would climb back within two, but Saint Anselm responded with a 22-2 run that ended with 15 straight points. Layups from McCahey and Santo started the run with layups before a three-point play from junior Dominic Borelli (Westbrook, Maine) pushed the lead to 20-11 with 9:17 to go.
After a pair of Chad Holley free throws, a right-wing 3-pointer from Mabrey re-ignited the run at the 8:35 mark. Layups from Santo and freshman Victor Joshua (New Haven, Conn.) widened the gap to 14 before Joshua found junior John Nielsen (Port Jefferson, N.Y.) on the right wing for a trey that made it 30-13. Baskets from Santo and Mabrey extended the stretch, while Santo, who scored seven points during the run, capped it with a free throw that bumped the lead to 35-13 with 5:06 left.
Five straight points from the River Hawks cooled Saint Anselm, but Santo hit back with a pair of jumpers that pushed it back to 39-18 at the 3:10 mark. UMass Lowell scored the final six points of the half and went into the locker room trailing, 39-24. Santo led all scorers with 15 at the break.
McCahey opened the second half with a three-point play, but two straight baskets from Akeem Williams cut it back to 42-28 just 1:25 in. With the lead down to 13, a McCahey trey and a three-point play from Santo took the lead back to 19 at 55-36 with 11:39 left.
Santo forced the lead to an even 20 at 66-46 with a pair of free throws at the 7:24 mark, but six straight from Antonio Bivins pulled the River Hawks within 14 with 6:45 remaining. A Williams layup would cut it to 13 with 1:34 on the clock, but a 6-1 spurt from the Hawks ran it back to 18. Holley knocked down a 3 with 17 seconds left to close the scoring.
Senior James Morse (Arundel, Maine) posted nine points (3-4 FG; 1-2 3-FG; 2-2 FT) and seven rebounds. Nielsen added six points (2-5 FG; 2-4 3-FG), while Mallios chipped in four points, five assists and six rebounds. Borelli pulled down seven boards and scored three points (1-2 FG; 1-1 FT).
Saint Anselm outshot UMass Lowell, 46.8 percent (29-62) to 39.7 percent (23-58), while UML had a better mark from beyond the arc (.357-.286). The Hawks controlled the glass (43-33) and the paint (38-28), while each team turned it over just 12 times.
Williams led the River Hawks with 24 points.
The Hawks return to action Saturday, Feb. 23 at 3:30 p.m. when they play host to Saint Michael's College 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).