MANCHESTER, N.H. – Sophomore Chris Paul (Highland Mills, N.Y.) scored 23 points on Saturday to pilot the nationally-ranked Saint Anselm College men's basketball team to an 81-71 victory over eighth-seeded Molloy in the First Round of the NCAA Division II Men's Basketball East Region Championship.
Saint Anselm, the top seed and host of this year's East Region tournament, improves to 23-5 overall and will face-off against the fourth-seeded University of New Haven on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. in the East Region semifinals. Molloy (21-10), taking on the 20th-ranked program in the country, sees its season come to a close in its first-ever appearance in the Division II Championship.
Paul also picked up a double-double, pulling down 11 rebounds to pair with his 23 points. Senior Tim Guers (Langhorne, Pa.) struck for 21 points and 15 rebounds, reaching a season-high mark with the latter statistic. He now has pulled down 782 career rebounds, passing Darren Clough '96 for ninth place in team history.
Senior Cody Ball (Londonderry, N.H.) scored in double-digits, bombing four three-point baskets to tally 16 points. He moves to fifth place all-time with 258 career triples, passing both Kris Tardio '00 and Jim Holsworth '06 with his performance against Molloy. With an appearance on Sunday against New Haven, Ball will match Brendan McCarthy '96 and his team-record 120 career games plaed.
Molloy overwhelmed the Hawks on the glass, securing 22 offensive rebounds, but the Hawks shot just over 40% from the floor and made 21 of their 29 free throw attempts (72.4%) in the victory. Head Coach Keith Dickson earned his 640th career victory with Saturday's result, matching the win total of long-time Southern New Hampshire bench boss, Stan Spirou.
Down by three points shortly into the second half, the Hawks took the lead for good with an 11-2 scoring run that was capped by a Paul layup in the paint with 14:30 to go. Saint Anselm later scored 12 of the game's 17 points near the midpoint of the second half, creating a game-high lead of 12 points, 51-39, with 11:29 to go.
Molloy would come no closer than six points away from drawing even with the Hawks, falling by a 10-point margin as time expired. Saint Anselm was able to lock down the victory as Molloy was whistled for 18 of the second half's 27 fouls.
The Lions opened up a 6-0 lead shortly into the game, but the Hawks rallied to tie the game on three separate occasions in the first half. Saint Anselm took a one point lead into halftime following five-straight points by Guers and a layup in the paint by Paul down the stretch.
Molloy was led by 21 points from Nick Corbett and 10 rebounds from Justin Caldwell.