PREVIEW: Saint Anselm hosts Bentley in NE10 Semifinals

MANCHESTER, N.H. - For the sixth-straight season, the Saint Anselm College men's basketball team has advanced to the Northeast-10 Conference Semifinals. The Hawks will host Bentley University on Wednesday in Stoutenburgh Gymnasium at 7 p.m. in search of their second-straight appearance in the NE10 Championship game.
SETTING THE STAGE: Saint Anselm is making its 35th appearance in the NE10 playoffs, having qualified for postseason play in all but one season since 1982-83. Saint Anselm enters the tournament as the reigning league champions after winning its eighth title in 2017. The Hawks have reached 20 victories for the fifth time in the last six seasons after last Tuesday's 82-72 victory over Stonehill at home. The Hawks have won four-straight games in the NE10 Tournament dating back to last season's 87-74 quarterfinal victory over Southern Connecticut State.
HOW BENTLEY GOT HERE: The Falcons clinched an appearance in the NE10 Tournament with a 72-54 victory over Merrimack on Feb. 17 in the second-to-last game of the season. With the victory, Bentley also locked up a winning record for the 22nd time in the team's last 23 seasons. After an 86-66 loss at Saint Anselm on Feb. 10, Bentley rattled off four-straight victories that included a 68-65 win over Saint Rose in the NE10 Quarterfinals on Sunday.
EARLIER THIS SEASON: Saint Anselm has registered two victories over Bentley during the regular season, the first coming on Dec. 9 on the road. The first game, an 88-86 victory at the Dana Center, was highlighted by two 25-point performances by juniors Cody Ball and Tim Guers.
With the score tied at 86 with 32 seconds left, Guers was fouled in the paint attempting the go-ahead basket. After two-straight timeouts called by the Bentley bench, Guers recorded back-to-back free throw makes to give his team an 88-86 lead. Following two additional timeouts, a last second shot by the Falcons fell short to secure a thrilling two-point win for the Hawks.
In an 86-66 victory at Stoutenburgh Gymnasium on Feb. 10, Ball scored 24 points to lead Saint Anselm to victory, pouring home six three-point baskets. Senior Taylor Fortin potted 20 points, making 8-of-12 shots from the floor while handing out seven assists. Guers collected a double-double with 28 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
Saint Anselm did not yield the lead after Ball's jumper only 22 seconds into the tilt found its way home. The Hawks had built a commanding 21-9 lead through the first 6:41 of action via six points from Ball, three points from Green, Guers and freshman Chris Paul. Freshman Gustav Suhr-Jessen also threw down a dunk to highlight an eight-point scoring run for Saint Anselm.
Bentley kept pace with Saint Anselm, shrinking the lead to four points on several occasions and outscored the Hawks until shortly into the second half. Ahead by only four points with 16:56 left in regulation time, Saint Anselm notched 15 of the game's next 17 points to create a 17-point bulge after a Fortin fast-break layup.
The Saint Anselm lead grew to a game-high 22 points following Ball's sixth three-pointer of the evening with 2:13 to go in regulation time. The Hawks allowed only six points in the final five-plus minutes of regulation time, keeping Bentley's deficit to 20 points as time expired.
TIM TERRIFIC: Guers was selected as the Northeast-10 Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Year on Monday. He becomes the seventh Player of the Year honoree from Saint Anselm in conference history.
Guers also collected NE10 First Team All-Conference while Ball was named to the league's Third Team. Fortin was one of five selections to the Honorable Mention All-Conference team and Paul was an All-Rookie team nod.
Guers, the first Player of the Year selection from Saint Anselm since current Assistant Coach Chris Santo '15, is in the midst of a stellar junior season. The former NE10 Rookie of the Year is averaging a career-high 21.8 points per game, scoring 611 points across 28 contests to date. Guers has posted double-digit point scoring totals in 27 of the 28 games played so far this year.
Ranking fourth in the NE10 in points per game (21.8) and rebounds per game (7.5), Guers has also tallied 5.3 assists per game to rank fifth in the league after tallying seven or more assists in nine games. The four-time NE10 Player of the Week selection in 2017-18 also picked up First Team All-Conference honors for the second-straight season.
On a national scale, Guers is ranked 10th in minutes per game (37.7), 11th in total minutes played (1,056) and 18th in total points scored (611). His 41-point performance earlier in the season against Adelphi ranks him within the top-30 in NCAA Division II in single-game points leaders in 2017-18.
Guers, a native of Langhorne, Pa., scored his 1,000th career point on Nov. 11, 2017 against Concordia (N.Y.) and has recorded 20-plus points in a game in 32 of his 88 career games. He has scored 1,594 career points entering Wednesday's contest and his 18.1 career points per game is tied for ninth in Saint Anselm history.
Ball earned All-Conference recognition for the first time in his career with Monday's announcement. The reigning NE10 Tournament Most Valuable Player is enjoying a stellar junior season, averaging a career-high 15.2 points per game by pouring home just over 45% of his three-point attempts on the year (86-for-190).
Ranked fourth in the NE10 in three-point field goal percentage (.453), Ball is 17th nationally with a .453 three-point field goal percentage and his 86 treys this season is the 24th-most in Division II to date. Ball has also contributed defensively with a personal single-season record of 134 rebounds and 21 blocks.
For his career, Ball, who hails from nearby Londonderry, N.H., has appeared in 88 games and needs only 21 points to reach 1,000 for his career. He is tied with Matt Murphy '01 for seventh all-time with a .423 career three-point field goal percentage and is his team's active leader in career field goal percentage with a .473 mark (363-for-767).
Fortin, from Tolland, Conn., received NE10 Honorable Mention distinction for the second-straight season. The senior captain recently scored his 1,000th career point and has dished out 177 assists on the year, crossing the 400-career assist milestone last time out against Southern Connecticut State. His 6.3 assists per game is currently the 15th-best figure in Division II.
Ranking ninth all-time with 405 career assists, Fortin has registered 23 career games with seven or more helpers. He is averaging 9.3 points per game across 109 career appearances in a Hawks uniform and has recorded 14 per contest in 2017-18. Fortin and Guers are responsible for Saint Anselm ranking sixth nationally in total assists (521) and seventh in assists per game (18.6).
KEEP YOUR EYES ON BALL: Ball, native of nearby Londonderry, N.H., recently scored his 400th point of the season which stands as a single-season record for him. He needs only 21 additional points to reach 1,000 for his career and, if done so this season, he would be the third Hawks player to crack 1,000 points in 2017-18. His 15.2 points per game in 2017-18 is a single-season record for Ball as he averaged 13.2 points per game last year.
SAINT ANSELM SNIPPETS: As a team, Saint Anselm is ranked fourth in NCAA Division II in fewest fouls committed (374) and defensive rebounds per game (30.18). The team's 18.6 assists per game and 521 total assists are ranked seventh and eighth nationally, respectively. The team's collective assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.51 is ranked 11th in the country.
GETTING IT DONE AT HOME: To date, Keith Dickson's charges have won 14 of its last 15 games played on the Hilltop, losing the only game by one point (vs. Southern N.H., Nov. 29). Since the start of last season, the Hawks have won 23 of 27 games in Stoutenburgh Gymnasium and, since the start of the 2012-13 season, Saint Anselm is 68-15.
CONGRATULATIONS KEITH DICKSON: Saint Anselm defeated LIU Post by a 91-67 margin on Sunday, Nov. 26 in Stoutenburgh Gymnasium, handing Dickson his 600th career coaching victory. Across a 32-year career as a Head Coach, Dickson ranks 12th among active NCAA Division II coaches in overall wins. Across all three NCAA divisions, he becomes only the 92nd coach in the history of the NCAA to register at least 600 wins.
Since his selection as Head Coach prior to the 1986-87 season, Dickson stands as the all-time winningest coach in program history in terms of overall wins (616) and winning percentage (.654). He has led the Hawks to eight Northeast-10 Conference Championships and 17 appearances in the NCAA Division II Tournament.
Dickson has been named NE10 Coach of the Year on four separate occasions and was selected as the New England Basketball Coaches' Association Coach of the Year in 1996. The National Association of Basketball Coaches recognized Dickson as the East Region's Coach of the Year in 1996 and 2013.
GUERS IN MOTION: Guers became the 41st student-athlete in team history to reach 1,000 career points, accomplishing that feat against Concordia (N.Y.) on Nov. 11, 2017. Guers scored 29 points against the Clippers, giving him 1,012 career points exiting the season-opening loss. He was the second-straight Hawks player to score their 1,000th point in Bentley's Dana Center as Harrison Taggart '17 accomplished the feat on Feb. 18, 2017.
BOARD GAMES: Against Georgian Court on Nov. 12, Saint Anselm reeled in 56 rebounds which stands as the most in a single game since at least the 2003-04 season. Green picked up 13 of those 56 caroms off the bench, setting a career-high mark in the process. To date, Saint Anselm has secured at least 30 rebounds in all of its games.