WALTHAM, Mass. – The nationally-ranked Saint Anselm College men's basketball team trailed the hosts from Bentley University for over 31 minutes on Saturday, but the Hawks led when it counted, posting a 65-62 come-from-behind victory over the Falcons.
Saint Anselm, ranked 24th in all of NCAA Division II by the National Association of Basketball Coaches, swept the season series against Bentley (17-8, 10-8 NE10) and improves to 19-4 overall and to 15-3 against Northeast-10 Conference opponents. The 11-point deficit overcome by Saint Anselm was its second-largest of the season - the Hawks defeated Jefferson earlier in the year after trailing by 15 points in the first half.
The Hawks also locked up at least a share of the Northeast Division Regular Season Championship as second-place Merrimack (12-6) handed Southern New Hampshire a loss on Saturday to stay within striking distance. Saint Anselm is the reigning regular season champions and has claimed that title three times since the start of the 2012-13 season.
Senior Tim Guers (Langhorne, Pa.) scored 20 points and notched 10 rebounds for his eighth double-double of the season. Senior Cody Ball (Londonderry, N.H.) cashed in with 16 points, six rebounds and a team-leading five assists. Sophomore Chris Paul (Highland Mills, N.Y.), junior Danny Evans (Leeds, United Kingdom) and sophomore Alonzo Jackson (Medford, Mass.) each scored eight points.
Bentley stormed ahead with a 10-0 lead to begin the contest and led by as many as 11 points late in the game. Down by a 46-35 margin with 13:09 left in regulation time, the Hawks fired off 15 of the game's next 17 points to earn a 50-48 lead with 8:21 to go. During that stretch, Guers had two three-point baskets and Jackson had a dunk to his credit.
The last lead for Bentley was immediately following a free throw by Chris Hudson, putting the hosts out in front by a 51-50 score. The Hawks followed with a layup in the paint by Jackson, a defensive rebound by sophomore Gustav Suhr-Jessen (Virum, Denmark), and a jumper by Ball to create a three-point bulge, 54-51.
Ahead by one point, 63-62, with 28 seconds left, the Falcons were forced to foul. Ball went to the line and made back-to-back free throws to boost the Hawks advantage to 65-62. Playing in a one possession game, Bentley missed a layup and a desperation three-point heave to solidify the victory for Saint Anselm, its fifth in a row and seventh out of the last eight games played against the Falcons.
Bentley crept out to a 38-31 lead at halftime despite both teams posting similar statistics. The Hawks shot just over 37% from the floor while Bentley shot 42.1%. Both teams pulled down 21 rebounds and the teams combined for only seven miscues, but Ryan Richmond scored a half-high 15 points for the hosts en route to the seven-point advantage at halftime.
Richmond finished with 20 points and seven rebounds for Bentley. Hudson had 15 points and 13 rebounds with Colton Lawrence tallying 12 points and 18 rebounds.
Saint Anselm hosts Southern New Hampshire this Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 7:30 p.m. in a Queen City Cup match.