PREVIEW: Men's basketball heads to Syracuse for NE10 Championship game

MANCHESTER, N.H. - The Saint Anselm College men's basketball will look to defend its Northeast-10 Conference Championship on Saturday, Mar. 3 as it travels to Syracuse, N.Y. for a 3 p.m. showdown with the Le Moyne College Dolphins.

LINKS: NE10 Championship Home | NE10 Release | Saint Anselm Game Notes (PDF) | Live Stats | Live Video (Coming Soon)

The Hawks enter play on Saturday having won five out of its last six games. Saint Anselm toppled Southern Connecticut State in the NE10 Quarterfinals on Feb. 25 by a 93-86 score before downing Bentley on Feb. 28 by an 87-80 result. Saint Anselm registered a dominant 15-1 record at home in Stoutenburgh Gymnasium in 2017-18.

Saint Anselm, the reigning NE10 Champions, is making its 13th all-time appearance in the league championship game. The Hawks have won five-straight games in the NE10 tournament since the start of the 2016-17 postseason and 51 all-time, far and away the most of any conference member since the inception of the league in 1980.

Saint Anselm is 51-28 all-time in NE10 Tournament play, having made 23 semifinals appearances and, including Saturday, will have played in 13 conference championship games. The Hawks have not won back-to-back championships since the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons.

Head Coach Keith Dickson is 12th among active coaches in NCAA Division II with 617 overall victories since his debut prior to the 1986-87 season. Prior to assuming the program's reins, the Hawks were a combined 0-4 in the NE10 playoffs - Saint Anselm has won 68% of its games (51-24) since his promotion to Head Coach.

A win on Saturday would earn Saint Anselm the conference's automatic qualifying bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Hawks would be set to make their 22nd overall appearance at the national championships, having earned a spot in the tournament in five-straight seasons leading up to the 2017-18 season. The 2016-17 regionals were held at Le Moyne - the Hawks recorded a 91-72 loss to Saint Thomas Aquinas in the first game.

DUELING WITH THE DOLPHINS: Saint Anselm posted a 76-63 loss to Le Moyne earlier this season on Jan. 20. The loss in Syracuse snapped a nine-game winning streak for the Hawks. Freshman Chris Paul set what was then a career-high mark with 24 points to join junior Cody Ball (15 points) in double-digit point scoring. Ball led the Hawks with seven rebounds and senior Taylor Fortin handed out six assists while tallying nine points.

Le Moyne scored the first basket of the game, taking a lead that they would not relinquish following a Tom Brown three-point basket only 26 seconds in. Ahead by only three points with 16:37 left in the first half, Le Moyne posted a 13-4 scoring run that included three triples to create a 12-point lead with 12:49 to go.

Freshman Gustav Suhr-Jessen countered with a three-point basket that was followed by a Paul layup and a Ball dunk with 9:25 left to shrink the Le Moyne lead to single digits. From that point forward, the Dolphins enjoyed a 26-14 edge in scoring leading into halftime where they took a 20-point lead, 52-32.

The Hawks outscored the Dolphins 31-24 in the final 20 minutes, but the early damage had been done. Finishing the game on a 6-2 run, the Hawks were able to shrink the final Le Moyne lead to only 13 points, 76-63.

Neither team enjoyed a major statistical advantage but Le Moyne secured the victory with 23 points off of 17 Hawks turnovers. The Dolphins bench also was responsible for 23 of their 76 total points and the Saint Anselm reserves only chipped in with five points.

Seven players scored nine points or more for Le Moyne, led by senior guard Anthony Richards and his 13 total points.

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 (22.3) and rebounds per game (7.6), Guers has also tallied 5.4 assists per game to rank fifth in the league after tallying seven or more assists in 10 games on the season. 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 ninth in total field goal attempts (479) and in minutes per game (37.5). His 22.3 points per game is 17th in the nation while his 5.4 assists per game is 34th. He has played 1,096 minutes on the season, ranking 12th nationally, and his 224 field goal makes are the 16th most in Division II. 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 33 of his 89 career games. He has scored 1,630 career points entering Saturday's contest and his 18.3 career points per game is eighth in Saint Anselm history.

KEEP YOUR EYES ON BALL: 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 14.9 points per game by pouring home just under 45% of his three-point attempts on the year (87-for-194).

Ranked fourth in the NE10 in three-point field goal percentage (.448), Ball is 20th nationally with a .448 three-point field goal percentage and his 87 treys this season is the 28th-most in Division II to date. Ball has also contributed defensively with a personal single-season record of 139 rebounds and 21 blocks.

For his career, Ball, who hails from nearby Londonderry, N.H., has appeared in 89 games and needs only 16 points to reach 1,000 for his career. He is the team's active leader in career field goal percentage with a .472 mark (365-for-773).

TAYLOR MADE: 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 186 assists on the year, crossing the 400-career assist milestone against Southern Connecticut State to begin the NE10 postseason. His 6.4 assists per game is currently the 14th-best figure in Division II.

Ranking eighth all-time with 414 career assists, Fortin has registered 24 career games with seven or more helpers. He is averaging 9.5 points per game across 110 career appearances in a Hawks uniform and has recorded 14.3 per contest in 2017-18. Fortin and Guers are responsible for Saint Anselm ranking seventh nationally in total assists (543) and eighth in assists per game (18.7).

PAUL-ITICS: Paul captured NE10 All-Rookie Team distinction following a successful freshman campaign that saw him win two league Rookie of the Week (Jan. 8, Jan. 15) awards.

In his freshman season on the Hilltop, Paul has started all 29 games for the Hawks, averaging 11.6 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 29.3 minutes per game. Paul has 16 double-digit scoring performances to his credit this season, including 14 in the last 18 games, and four 20-plus-point outings. The Highland Mills, N.Y. product is shooting 68% (34-for-50) from the field over his last seven games and has scored 54 points over the last three games.

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 15 of its last 16 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 24 of 28 games in Stoutenburgh Gymnasium and, since the start of the 2012-13 season, Saint Anselm is 69-15.

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 (617) 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.

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.

PRESEASON POLL RESULTS: Fresh off a Northeast-10 Conference Championship in 2016-17, the Saint Anselm College men's basketball team was projected to finish first in the Northeast Division, according to the conference's annual Preseason Coaches Poll.

Saint Anselm racked up 94 total points following a vote of the league's coaches, earning six first-place votes. Merrimack earned seven first-place votes, but ranked one point behind the Hawks to place second overall. Southern New Hampshire rounded out the first place votes, collecting two, while placing third with 79 points.

In the Southwest Division, Le Moyne earned 91 points and 13 out of a possible 15 first place votes to rank first. New Haven and Adelphi finished second and third, respectively, with the Chargers tallying 71 points and a first place vote and the Panthers securing 57 total points to place third.

The Hawks posted 20 victories for the fourth time in the last five seasons in 2016-17, earning the program's eighth NE10 Tournament Championship last March. The team also made its fifth-consecutive NCAA Division II Tournament appearance for the first time in program history and its 21st overall.