Men’s Basketball falls to STAC in NCAA First Round

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The Saint Anselm College men's basketball team saw its season come to an end following a 91-72 setback to St. Thomas Aquinas College in an NCAA East Regional Quarterfinal matchup held at Ted Grant Court in Syracuse, N.Y. on Saturday night.

Box Score

The Hawks finish the year at 20-9 overall, posting their fourth 20-win season in the past five years, while capturing the program's eighth Northeast-10 Conference Tournament Championship last weekend.

STAC improves to 26-5 overall and advance to take on Merrimack College in the East Regional Semifinals tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m.

Cody Ball scored a team-high 17 points to go with two rebounds and three assists, while Chris Braley notched his 10th double-double of the season with 16 points and 11 rebounds in the defeat. Tim Guers added 14 points, four rebounds and three assists, with Harrison Taggart joining them in double-figures with 10 points. Taylor Fortin chipped in four points, five rebounds and five assists for the Hawks.

St. Thomas Aquinas was led by a double-double of 32 points and 15 rebounds from Justin Reyes. Four other players reached double-figures, led by 15 points off the bench from Adam Koziol.

Saint Anselm fell in to an early 7-2 hole as a triple from Chaz Watler and a fall away jumper from Justin Reyes gave the Spartans a five-point lead with 18:07 to play. Harrison Taggart answered with a triple, and another score inside from the senior made it a 12-9 deficit at the 17:02 mark, but the Spartans used an 18-4 run over the next eight minutes to grab a 30-13 lead and 9:11 to play in the opening half.

Braley ended the run with a driving layup, but Adam Koziol connected on his third triple of the period to keep the Spartans in front 33-15. Taggart converted a left-handed layup and Cody Ball knocked down a pair of free throws to trim the deficit to 33-19. Reyes sandwiched baskets around a Chris Braley bucket as the Spartans held on to a 37-21 lead with 3:31 remaining.

Braley and Aaron Cust traded layups as the Spartans held on to a 43-25 advantage with 1:26 to play. After a Reyes free throw, Tim Guers connected on a three-pointer and after Taylor Fortin drew a charge, Guers raced up the floor and found Cody Ball in the corner for an open three that made it a 44-31 game at the half.

Ball connected on a triple for the Hawks' first basket of the second half and a Chris Braley offensive rebound and layup at the 17:27 mark made it a 49-36 game, but a 7-0 run by the Spartans gave STAC a 56-36 lead with 14:53 to play. Braley scored again inside to end the run, but back-to-back scores by St. Thomas Aquinas kept the Spartans in front 60-38.

At the 11:07 mark, Tim Guers knocked down a pair of free throws to pull the Hawks to 65-43, and a layup by the sophomore on the next possession made it 66-45 game. Chris Braley scored inside and Tim Guers buried a triple as the Hawks climbed to within 68-50, but Reyes converted a three-point play to keep STAC ahead 71-50 with 9:03 to play.

Guers would score one more layup to make it a 73-52 game, and a 7-0 spurt on a Taggart three and two-straight layups by Taylor Fortin left the Hawks trailing 79-61 with 4:54 remaining. Ball would add two more free throws, and Austin Nydegger would score seven quick points off the bench, but the Hawks were too far behind as STAC held on for the 91-72 victory.

Saint Anselm shot 44.3% (27-of-61) from the field, 25.8% (8-of-31) from beyond the arc and 71.4% (10-of-14) from the free throw line in the setback. St. Thomas Aquinas knocked down 49.3% (34-of-69) of their attempts from the floor, 47.8% (11-of-23) of their triples and 80% (12-of-15) of their free throws in the win. The Spartans held a 39-35 edge in rebounds, while forcing 15 Saint Anselm turnovers and committing only nine in the game.

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