BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – The nationally-ranked Saint Anselm College men's basketball team rebounded from a sluggish start to capture a 94-79 victory over the host Purple Knights from the University of Bridgeport on Tuesday in non-league action.
The Hawks (9-0), ranked fourth in all of NCAA Division II by the National Association of Basketball Coaches and D2SIDA, are one of only nine undefeated programs in the nation. Bridgeport (5-6), the fourth-highest scoring team in all of NCAA Division II entering the game, has lost four straight contests.
Sophomore Chris Paul (Highland Mills, N.Y.) set a career-high mark with 27 points, eclipsing 500 career points early in the contest. Senior Tim Guers (Langhorne, Pa.) and classmate Cody Ball (Londonderry, N.H.) each made their 100th career appearances in a Hawks uniform in the contest, the former notching 24 points and the latter chipping in with 12.
Sophomore Gustav Suhr-Jessen (Virum, Denmark) with 20 points in the contest. Saint Anselm had four of its five starters reach double-digit point scoring totals for the fourth-straight game and the Hawks won the rebounding battle by a 36-to-29 margin. The Hawks also made 21 of their 22 free throws in the game, the program's best percentage (.955) in nearly four seasons (min. 10 made).
Down by 10 points on two separate occasions in the first half of play, the Hawks used back-to-back triples from Guers and Ball to cut the hosts lead to four points, 27-23, with 7:25 left in the first half. In fact, the consecutive triples by the Hawks sparked a 17-5 scoring run that spanned just under seven minutes to catapult them into the lead, 34-32, with under 2:30 to go.
An eight-point spurt by Bridgeport built a six-point lead with 35 seconds left in the first half before a last-second "three" by Paul created momentum heading into the locker room. Saint Anselm trailed by a 40-37 margin at the break despite 17 first-half miscues – the Purple Knights controlled the paint (28-to-16) and had 24 points off of Hawks turnovers.
Saint Anselm captured the lead for good as Paul's late trey turned into a 21-8 scoring run for the Hawks. Ahead by a 55-48 margin with only 5:56 expired in the second half, three-point baskets by both Suhr-Jessen and Ball eventually lifted Saint Anselm to a double-digit advantage, 65-54, with 12:08 remaining.
Bridgeport cut the Saint Anselm lead to three points, 76-73, but with 5:15 to go in regulation time, the Hawks put the game out of reach with 18 of the game's final 24 points to build a game-high lead of 15 points.
Bakary Camara scored 20 points to lead Bridgeport offensively.