PREVIEW: NCAA Division II East Region Quarterfinal - Saint Anselm vs. Molloy

PREVIEW: NCAA Division II East Region Quarterfinal - Saint Anselm vs. Molloy

MANCHESTER, N.H. – The nationally-ranked Saint Anselm College men's basketball team is set to face Molloy in the First Round of the 2019 NCAA Division II Men's Basketball East Region Championship on Saturday, Mar. 16 at 5 p.m.

Saint Anselm (22-5) was selected as the top seed in the East, earning the privilege to host the eight-team tournament in Stoutenburgh Gymnasium for the first time in program history. The Hawks will make their seventh consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament with Molloy earning its first-ever trip to the championship this year.

Molloy, the owners of a 21-9 overall record, recently handed the University of Bridgeport a 90-86 defeat in overtime to claim its first-ever East Coast Conference Championship. The Lions come to Manchester riding a three-game winning streak and have won seven of their last eight games – the one loss came in overtime to East Region Championship participant Saint Thomas Aquinas.

Saint Anselm is in search of its second East Region title, having last advanced to the Elite Eight in the 1999-00 season.

LAST TIME OUT: The top-seeded men's basketball team from Saint Anselm was toppled by the fourth-seeded Owls from Southern Connecticut State on Mar. 3 by a 97-87 score in the Northeast-10 Conference Quarterfinals in Stoutenburgh Gymnasium.

The Hawks were led by 31 points from senior 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.

SAINT ANSELM QUICK HITS

  • Saint Anselm enters the contest ranked 20th in NCAA Division II by the National Association of Basketball Coaches in its most recent poll. In the D2SIDA National Media Poll, the Hawks jumped to 11th in the country despite a loss to Southern Conn. St. in the opening round of the conference playoffs.
  • Guers, a two-time Northeast-10 Player of the Year recipient, has scored at least 20 points in all but one of his last 13 games played. In that span, he is averaging 22.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, making just shy of 44% of his three-point field goal attempts (31-for-71).
  • With 2,222 career points, Guers is fourth in all-time Northeast-10 Conference history in point scoring.
  • The Hawks are ranked third in all of NCAA Division II in defensive rebounds per game (30.15) and are 12th nationally with 402 total fouls, ranking second in the NE10. The team finished the season tops in the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.32), defensive rebounds per game (30.15), field goal percentage defense (.413), rebound margin (5.4), scoring margin (11.7), scoring offense (84.0), and total rebounds per game (39.0).
  • Guers' 37.7 minutes per game stands as the 14th-most in NCAA Division II entering Saturday's game against Molloy.
  • Saint Anselm has overcome a deficit in 20 of its 27 games on the season and has rebounded from a double-digit deficit on four occasions, winning each of those contests. The Hawks largest comeback of the year came against Jefferson, trailing by 15 points and winning in overtime by a 79-75 margin in the season's third game.
  • Saint Anselm won its first 10 games to begin the season, setting a program record with its best-ever start.
  • The Hawks are shooting at a 40.3% clip from beyond the arc (242-for-601), the eighth-best figure in team history since the implementation of the three-point basket in 1986.
  • Guers was tabbed as the Northeast-10 Conference Player of the Year for the second consecutive season in early March. He became only the seventh student-athlete in league history to earn Player of the Year honors twice and the first since the 2012-13 season. Additionally, Guers is one of only 14 student-athletes in conference history to earn three career First Team All-Conference selections. 
  • Head Coach Keith Dickson was tabbed as the NE10's top coach for the fifth time in his 33-year career on the Hilltop in the league's major award announcement in early March. Dickson has guided the Hawks to a 22-5 record to date and was recently awarded its ninth conference regular season championship with an 18-3 mark versus league opponents. Saint Anselm also picked up its highest-ever national ranking earlier in the season (No. 4).
  • With a 639-333 overall record entering his next game, Dickson is only five victories away from setting the all-time Northeast-10 record for coaching victories since the formation of the NE10 in 1980. He previously was named the league's Coach of the Year in 1989-90, 1994-95, 1995-96 and 2012-13.
  • Ball was voted to the league's Second Team in 2018-19 after picking up Third Team All-NE10 honors as a junior. Averaging a career-high 5.1 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game to date, Ball ranks fifth in the NE10 in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.91) and three-point field goal percentage (41.5%). He is averaging 13.4 points per game to date.
  • Paul earned Honorable Mention distinction following the season after drawing All-Rookie Team praise last year. Averaging a career-high 14.2 points per game through 27 games, Paul is shooting nearly 50% from the floor (145-292) while securing exactly six rebounds per contest, on average.

MOLLOY QUICK HITS

  • Molloy reached 20 victories on the season for the first time in 2018-19, entering play having won its first-ever league championship last week in overtime against Bridgeport. The Lions upset the second-seeded Saint Thomas Aquinas squad in the league semifinals, earning the right to play for the conference title.
  • Molloy is second in NCAA Division II with 30.5 defensive rebounds per game, 1,322 total rebounds and 44.07 rebounds per game. The team is also 10th nationally in field goal percentage defense (39.7).
  • Charles Marquardt is in his 25th season as coach of the Lions and owns a record of 285-414 (.408). His teams have made the conference playoffs in 21 of his 25 seasons at the helm and has earned Coach of the Year on three occasions.
  • Junior Nick Corbett was selected as the Most Outstanding Player of the ECC Tournament, posting 25 points against Bridgeport in the conference's title game. He scored at least 20 points in each of the three games of the ECC Tournament, including another 25-point performance against Saint Thomas Aquinas. He opened the playoffs with 20 points against District of Columbia on Mar. 6.
  • Corbett, a First Team All-ECC selection, enters the game ranked second in the ECC in three-point field goal percentage (42.1) and three-point field goals made (77). He also ranks in the ECC's top five in total minutes played (1,010), points scored (450) and rebounds (217).
  • Seniors Curtis Jenkins and Mike Torre were named to the All-Tournament team. Jenkins, the ECC's Defensive Player of the Year, had only 10 combined points in the first two games of the ECC postseason but exploded for 28 points in the championship game against Bridgeport along with 16 rebounds. Torre, a Third Team All-ECC selection, was a consistent performer, scoring at least 10 points in each game of the league playoffs.

NCAA POSTSEASON ALL-TIME

  • Saint Anselm is making its 22nd appearance in the NCAA Division II Championship this season and owns an overall record of 14-24 (.368).
  • The Hawks earned their first-ever NCAA postseason victory in 1960, defeating Le Moyne by a 108-75 margin in the First Round before falling to Saint Michael's in the regional championship, 99-95.
  • Saint Anselm has made it to the regional title game in 1990, 1996, 2000, 2014 and 2016, claiming its lone East Region Championship in 2000 after beating Adelphi, 76-72.
  • Molloy, tracing its origins as a varsity program to the 1992-93 season, has never qualified for an NCAA Championship.

ALL-TIME vs. MOLLOY

  • The Hawks have faced Molloy on one prior occasion, a 102-79 victory for Saint Anselm on Nov. 14, 2015.
  • Then-junior Harrison Taggart '17 scored 22 points and classmate Chris Braley '17 registered a double-double during his first game in a Saint Anselm uniform.
  • Making his collegiate debut for the Hawks, Guers tallied six points, three rebounds and two assists, while Ball notched five points, five assists and two rebounds in his first-ever game for Saint Anselm.
  • Saint Anselm handily outshot Molloy, 61 percent (36-59) to 40.8 percent (29-71), including 70.6 percent (12-17) to 37.5 percent (6-16) from downtown. The Hawks crushed the Lions on the glass (50-23) and also owned an advantage in second-chance points (20-7).