Men's basketball comes from behind to down SNHU, 68-59

MANCHESTER, N.H. – Down by a game-high 15 points shortly into the second half, the Saint Anselm College men's basketball team rattled off 44 second-half points en route to a 68-59 victory over the Penmen of Southern New Hampshire University on Wednesday at the SNHU Arena.

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Saint Anselm improves to 19-6 overall on the season and to 14-5 against Northeast-10 Conference opponents. SNHU dips to 13-11 and to 9-10 against league foes. The Hawks even their record at 1-1 against the Penmen in the downtown SNHU Arena.

Junior Cody Ball finished the game with 20 points, joining classmate Tim Guers and senior Taylor Fortin in double-figures as each poured home 13 points. Freshman Chris Paul scored 12 points for Saint Anselm and tied Ball and Guers for the team-lead with seven rebounds. Freshman Gustav Suhr-Jessen scored seven points and hauled in four rebounds.

Trailing by a 55-48 score with 9:11 left in regulation time following a Chris Walters dunk, Saint Anselm racked up 11-straight points to capture a stunning 59-55 lead with 5:51 left on the clock. A Penmen layup temporarily slowed the Hawks roll, but a Guers triple shortly thereafter kept the Hawks pointing in the right direction.

In the final minute, Saint Anselm scored six-straight points and kept the Penmen at arm's length. Including a field goal with 11 seconds left, the Hawks defense limited SNHU to only four points in the game's final nine-plus minutes. Furthermore, the Saint Anselm defense yielded only one three-point basket in the contest, including an 0-for-9 mark in the second half alone.

SNHU sprinted out to a 9-0 lead in the game's first 2:43 as the Hawks were 0-for-2 from the floor while committing a turnover. Saint Anselm made its next three shots, however, and cut the deficit to 11-8 only minutes later.

The Penmen countered with eight of the next 10 points in the game and created a 19-10 lead with 10:39 left in the first half. The next 59 seconds were dominated by Saint Anselm as a Guers layup, a Fortin trey and another Guers layup brought the Hawks to within two points, 19-17.

From just beyond the arc, freshman Spencer Cline poured home a three-point basket shortly thereafter to bring the score to 21-20 with 8:13 to go in the first half. The Penmen maintained their lead down the stretch, scoring 10-straight points at one point to build a 13-point halftime advantage following a buzzer-beating jumper by Walters.

Saint Anselm struggled from distance in the opening 20 minutes, connecting on only four of its 15 shots from downtown. Southern New Hampshire also controlled the paint, scoring 20 of the game's 32 points under the basket, and punished the Hawks with seven second-chance points before the break.

The Hawks trailed by as many as 15 points shortly into the second half, but Saint Anselm rattled off a quick 16-4 scoring run to cut the deficit to two points, 45-43, with 12:43 to go in the first half. Following SNHU's eighth foul of the second half, Suhr-Jessen's back-to-back free throw makes on a one-and-one tied the game at 45.

Saint Anselm held the Penmen scoreless from 14:51 to 11:43, but SNHU retook the lead, 47-45, after Walters made back-to-back free throws. A Ball trey shrunk the opponents' lead to one point shortly thereafter, but the aforementioned Walters dunk capped a six-point scoring run for the Penmen with 9:11 to go in regulation time.

Walters finished as the SNHU team leader in point scoring with 17 to his credit. Daquaise Andrews tallied a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds. As a team, the Penmen were stymied in the second half, shooting 25% from the floor (8-for-32) and 38.1% for the game (24-for-63).

The Hawks head north to take on Saint Michael's College this Saturday, Feb. 17 at 3:30 p.m. in the Green Mountain State. Saint Anselm returns home on Tuesday, Feb. 20 at 7:30 p.m. to celebrate Senior Day in Stoutenburgh Gymnasium against the Skyhawks from Stonehill College.