SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The No. 2-seeded Saint Anselm College men's basketball team outlasted top-seeded Le Moyne College, 71-68, in a Northeast-10 Conference Championship Semifinal matchup on Wednesday night at Ted Grant Court in Syracuse, N.Y.
The Hawks (19-8) advance to their 12th NE10 Championship game in program history, and will try and capture their eighth NE10 Tournament Championship when they travel to cross-town rival Southern New Hampshire University on Saturday afternoon for a 1 p.m. game. The Penmen (21-7) advanced to the Final with a 65-63 win over Saint Rose in the other Semifinal played on Wednesday night.
This will be only the second time the two teams have met in the NE10 Postseason after they matched up in the NE10 Semifinals a season ago. Saint Anselm and SNHU split their previous two meetings this season with the home team holding serve on both occasions.
Getting back to the Semifinal, the sophomore duo of Tim Guers and Cody Ball scored 21 points apiece to fuel the Hawks victory. Ball also added four rebounds, while Guers had five rebounds, six assists and a pair of steals. Harrison Taggart joined them in double-figures with 15 points, while Chris Braley and Taylor Fortin chipped in seven points apiece with Fortin adding seven assists.
Le Moyne had five players reach double-figures in scoring led by 14 points apiece from Tanner Hyland and Daniel Klaiger.
Le Moyne came out firing as they started the game on a 10-0 run keyed by seven points from Isaiah Eisendorf. Taylor Fortin ended the run with a triple, registering the Hawks' first field goal of the game with 15:08 to play in the period, and Cody Ball knocked down a three at the 14:43 mark to make it a 12-6 deficit. A three-point play from Chris Braley cut the Le Moyne lead to 17-11, and Cody Ball sliced to the basket for a lefty layup that pulled Saint Anselm to within 19-17 with 11:59 to play.
Another Ball triple at the 11:05 mark made it a 21-20 game, but the Dolphins answered with a 5-0 run to jump back on top 26-21, before Taylor Fortin connected on a jumper in the corner to trim the Dolphin lead to 26-23. The two teams traded baskets over the next few minutes, and the Hawks finally took their first lead of the game at 34-33 with 3:12 remaining in the half as Harrison Taggart buried a corner three.
After Tanner Hyland knocked down a three to put the Dolphins back in front 36-35, Chris Braley grabbed an offensive rebound and laid it in to put the Hawks ahead 37-36 with 1:14 to play. The score would remain the same headed into halftime as the teams traded empty possessions to end the period.
The Hawks opened the second half with a 12-6 run to jump out to a 49-42 lead following five points from Taggart and a layup from Guers. Tanner Hyland answered for the Dolphins with a triple, but Cody Ball responded with a jumper of his own to put the Hawks back in front 51-45 with 15:16 to play.
After another Ball layup put the Hawks ahead 53-45, the Dolphins scored four-straight points to climb back to 53-49. Tim Guers answered with a three-point play to give the Hawks a 56-49 lead and 11:47 to play in the half. Le Moyne pulled to within three following a layup from Daniel Kaigler, but Taggart knocked down a pair of free throws to keep Saint Anselm in front 58-53 with just over 10 minutes remaining.
A 5-0 run by the Dolphins tied the game at 58-58, and Daniel Kaigler gave Le Moyne the lead back with a steal and layup to make it a 60-58 game. Cody Ball answered on the other end with a jumper to tie the game at 60-all, before Harrison Taggart knocked down a triple to put the Hawks back in front 63-60 with 5:54 remaining.
The final three minutes were a battle as the lead changed hands several times over the final 180 seconds. Russell Sangster put the Dolphins in front at 64-63 with a layup, but Cody Ball answered for the Hawks with a three-pointer. After Hyland knotted the game at 66-66 with a jumper, Tim Guers scored inside to give Saint Anselm the lead back at 68-66. Kaigler later tied the game with a layup, and Guers responded with a corner three to make it a 71-68 game.
Guers forced a turnover on the next Le Moyne possession, but the Hawks came up empty on their end with only 22 seconds to play. After a Dolphin timeout with 15 seconds remaining, Hyland got a look at a three to tie, but it missed left and Guers hauled in the rebound to seal the 71-68 victory.
Saint Anselm shot 52% (26-of-50) from the field, 45.5% (10-of-22) from beyond the arc and 69.2% (9-of-13) at the free throw line in the win. Le Moyne connected on 43.5% (27-of-62) of their attempts from the floor, 26.1% (6-of-23) of their threes and 80% (8-of-10) of their free throws. The Dolphins held a 34-27 edge in rebounding and also committed only eight turnovers to 10 for the Hawks.