MANCHESTER, N.H. – The top-seeded men's basketball team from Saint Anselm College was toppled by the fourth-seeded Owls from Southern Connecticut State University on Sunday by a 97-87 score in the Northeast-10 Conference Quarterfinals in Stoutenburgh Gymnasium.
Ranked 18th in the most recent National Association of Basketball Coaches' poll, Saint Anselm (22-5) entered the contest as the top-ranked team in the East Region of NCAA Division II. The Hawks await the NCAA Division II Men's Basketball Championship Selection Show, slated for Sunday, Mar. 10 at 10:30 p.m. Southern Connecticut State (19-11) moves on to play New Haven (19-8) in the NE10 Semifinals on Wednesday, Mar. 6.
The Hawks were led by 31 points from senior captain Tim Guers (Langhorne, Pa.), who also added eight rebounds and a team-best seven assists. Senior Cody Ball (Londonderry, N.H.) had 15 points, equaling the scoring output of sophomore Chris Paul (Highland Mills, N.Y.). Sophomore Gustav Suhr-Jessen (Virum, Denmark) tallied 12 points and had six rebounds.
Southern Connecticut State opened the first half with five three-pointers in the game's first 5:18, creating a 15-12 lead following Kealan Ives' second trey of the afternoon. Guers quickly countered with a triple of his own, tying the game at 15, but the Owls pulled away with a 10-5 scoring run to create a 25-20 lead with 10:50 left in the first half. The Hawks closed the gap with an 8-4 scoring run over the game's next three minutes with key baskets from freshman Miles Tention (Palo Alto, Calif.) and Guers.
A dunk from sophomore Alonzo Jackson (Medford, Mass.) capped the strong offensive burst by the Hawks, creating a 30-29 lead for Saint Anselm with 7:16 left in the first half. Southern Connecticut State responded with 12 of the game's next 17 points to build a 41-35 advantage with under four minutes left in the opener. Southern Connecticut State took a three-point lead into the locker room, owning a 44-41 advantage through 20 minutes of play.
A triple from Ball started the second half with a bang, tying the game at 44 only 18 seconds in. Saint Anselm would not take the lead for the remainder of the second half, trailing by as many as 17 points, 76-59, with 8:36 left in regulation time. Saint Anselm cut its deficit to seven points on three occasions, but late free throws by the Owls locked up the upset victory for the guests.
The Owls made 20 of their 25 second-half free throws and won the rebounding battle, 24-to-15, in the second stanza. 11 of those 24 rebounds were of the offensive variety. The Hawks outshot the Owls from the floor, 47.8% to 44.6%, but Southern Connecticut State made 27 of their 34 total free throws as Saint Anselm was whistled for 24 of the game's 39 total fouls.
C.J. Seaforth and Ives led Southern Connecticut State with 25 points.