PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – The nationally-ranked Saint Anselm College men's basketball team erased an 11-point halftime deficit, defeating Jefferson University, 79-75, in overtime on Saturday afternoon in a non-league battle at the Gallagher Center.
The Hawks, who were ranked sixth in NCAA Division II by the National Association of Basketball Coaches Preseason Poll and fourth in the Division II Sports Information Directors of America Poll (as of Nov. 13), improve to 3-0 on the season. The Rams fall to 2-1 on the young season.
Senior Tim Guers (Langhorne, Pa.) led Saint Anselm and all players with 30 points and 13 rebounds while classmate Cody Ball (Londonderry, N.H.) finished the day with 17 points on 6-for-10 shooting from the field, including 2-for-5 from long range. Guers now ranks ninth in team history with 1,705 career points, passing Jim Moore '06 who tallied 1,704.
The opening half was a tight contest between both teams in the opening 10 minutes. The largest lead was a 7-4 lead by the Rams just over three minutes gone, but the Hawks tied things up at nine on a long-range shot by Cody Ball. The teams traded the lead back and forth before the score was brought to 19-all at the 10:16 mark of the first half.
However, Jefferson pulled away on a 6-0 run over the next three minutes to build a 25-19 lead before ultimately capturing its largest lead of the half at 38-23. Saint Anselm went on a small run of its own that started with a three-pointer from sophomore Gustav Suhr-Jessen (Virum, Denmark). The Hawks went on a 9-4 run to close the deficit to 11 at the half.
Saint Anselm battled back to start the second stanza, going on a 10-4 run to cut the Rams lead to 46-41 in the opening 2:57 minutes. After Jefferson went ahead to build a seven-point advantage, the Hawks clawed back into it with before tying the game at 52 on a three-point shot by Ball just over six minutes gone in the second half. The Hawks forged ahead, 60-56, with just over six and a half remaining in regulation. The Rams hung tough, tying the game at 67 with a pair of late free throws by Kylan Guerra with only 16 seconds left in regulation time.
Both teams made layups to begin overtime, tying the game at 69, before a key 7-2 run put the guests ahead, 76-72, with 2:48 to play. The Rams cut into the lead with a layup and free throw by Guerra, but a clutch Guers layup with 20 seconds left helped the cause prior to a missed Jefferson trey with six seconds left. Forced to foul Ball, he made one of two free throws down the stretch to help his team hold on the victory.
Saint Anselm shot 46.0 percent from the field on 29-of-30 shooting, including 6-for-17 (35.3%) from beyond the arc. The Hawks had 33 rebounds to Jefferson's 34, but the key difference was in the turnover category, where Saint Anselm scored 17 points off of 14 Rams turnovers. The visitors also had 14-second chance points.
Guerra had 24 points to lead the Rams on 8-of-19 shooting while Josh Bradanese had six points and a team-high 10 rebounds.
Saint Anselm opens Northeast-10 Conference play on Tuesday, Nov. 20 against Stonehill at 7:30 p.m. in Stoutenburgh Gymnasium.