MANCHESTER, N.H. – Junior Tim Guers, the reigning Player of the Year in the Northeast-10 Conference, scored 36 points to help the Saint Anselm College men's basketball team record an 87-80 victory over the visiting Falcons from Bentley University in the NE10 Semifinals.
Saint Anselm (22-7) advances to the NE10 title game for the second-consecutive season, having defeated Southern New Hampshire in last season's league tournament finale. Bentley (16-12) sees its season come to a close with Wednesday's result.
The top seed in the NE10's Northeast Division, Saint Anselm will travel to the Southwest Division's top seed, Le Moyne College, on Saturday, Mar. 3 at 3 p.m. to compete in the NE10 Championship game. Le Moyne cruised to an 83-55 win over Merrimack in its league semifinal game on Wednesday.
Alongside 36 points, Guers tallied nine assists and as many rebounds in 40 minutes of action. Senior Taylor Fortin matched Guers with nine helpers, scoring 23 points. The last pair of Saint Anselm teammates to record more than eight assists apiece in one game was Jeff Dickson '08 (10 ast.) and Chris Vetrano '08 (8 ast.) on Dec. 19, 2007 against Concordia (N.Y.)
Freshman Chris Paul reeled in a game-high 10 rebounds, scoring nine points, while classmate Gustav Suhr-Jessen scored seven points. Senior Austin Nydegger posted seven points and two rebounds in 11 minutes of action off the bench. Kyle Green picked up three rebounds in a reserve role for the Hawks.
Two Fortin treys keyed a 14-6 start to the game for the Hawks who grew their first-half lead to 11 points, 26-15, with 9:45 to go. Guers had back-to-back layups in the paint, catapulting Saint Anselm to a game-high lead of 12 points, 34-22, with 6:52 left in the opening half.
Bentley's Ryan Richmond helped the Falcons go on a 13-2 run that spanned the game's next 4:32 as he racked up nine points during that stretch. His Herculean scoring effort brought the Falcons to within one point, 36-35, with 2:03 remaining in the first half. The Hawks were able to score the final five points of the first half, carrying a 41-35 advantage into the break.
Saint Anselm came out firing in the second half, rebuilding a 12-point bulge with an 8-2 scoring stretch out of the locker room. Despite the double-digit deficit, Bentley cut the Saint Anselm lead to four points, 77-73, with 4:35 left after completing a 16-8 scoring stretch.
Suhr-Jessen answered the Bentley sprint with a clutch three-point basket, only his 15th of the season, to spark his team to score seven of the game's next eight points. The Hawks were able to hold on for the remaining 2:32 of regulation time, never letting Bentley come closer than six points to tying the game.
The Hawks shot just over 50% from the floor, making 32-of-63 of their field goals. Bentley challenged Saint Anselm in the second half, shooting 53.1% (17-for-32), but the Hawks made six of their 12 shots from beyond the arc to maintain its lead throughout the stanza.
Richmond led his team with 35 points.