PREVIEW: NCAA Division II East Region Semifinal - Saint Anselm vs. New Haven

MANCHESTER, N.H. – Fresh off of a First Round victory over Molloy to begin the NCAA Division II Men's Basketball East Region Championship, the nationally-ranked Saint Anselm College men's basketball team will face-off against its Northeast-10 Conference rival, the University of New Haven, on Sunday, Mar. 17 at 7:30 p.m. in Stoutenburgh Gymnasium.

The winner of Sunday's semifinal contest will play for the East Region Championship with the winner heading to Evansville, Ind. for the Division II Men's Elite Eight. The Hawks last won an East Region title in the 1999-00 season.

Saint Anselm (23-5) 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 are in the midst of their seventh consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament while New Haven is enjoying its eighth trip to the Division II postseason in team history.

On Saturday, the Hawks earned a double-digit victory over the eighth-seeded program from Molloy. New Haven held on for a 72-67 victory over Daemen in Saturday's final game on the schedule, staving off a late Daemen rush with clutch free throws and a late shot rejection by the Chargers defense in the final 10 seconds.

LAST TIME OUT: Sophomore Chris Paul (Highland Mills, N.Y.) scored 23 points on Saturday in his team's 81-71 victory over eighth-seeded Molloy.

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.

LAST TIME OUT vs. NEW HAVEN: Saint Anselm secured a 73-52 win over the visiting Chargers in early January from Stoutenburgh Gymnasium.

Ball poured home five three-point baskets, leading the charge with 21 points. Guuers scored 18 points with Paul reaching 10 points. Sophomore Gustav Suhr-Jessen (Virum, Denmark) fell one point short of a double-double, finishing with 10 rebounds and nine points. Junior Danny Evans (Leeds, United Kingdom) also had a strong effort, scoring eight points along with seven rebounds.

A 14-point scoring run by Saint Anselm turned a 21-16 deficit with 7:14 left in the first half into a 30-21 advantage with under three minutes left in the stanza. After trailing by five, the Hawks closed the first half on a stunning 22-4 run to create a 38-25 halftime lead.

New Haven would attempt to come back, opening the second half with nine of the first 13 points scored. Another dominant scoring stretch by the Hawks put the game out of reach for good – this time, Saint Anselm posted 20 of the game's next 23 points to build a 24-point advantage with just over 10 minutes left on the clock.

The Hawks led by as many as 25 points in the second half, cruising to the victory.

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.
  • When playing at home in Stoutenburgh Gymnasium this year, the Hawks are a dominant 11-2, shooting just shy of 50% from the floor (393-for-792) while limiting opponents to just under 40% (341-for-854). Since the start of the 2012-13 season, Saint Anselm is 80-17 when playing on its home court.
  • The Hawks had won 18 consecutive home games between this season and last prior to losing to Le Moyne, 69-65, on Jan. 26. The most recent home loss came to Southern Conn. St. in the NE10 Quarterfinals on Mar. 3.
  • Saint Anselm has never hosted an NCAA Division II East Region Championship at home in Stoutenburgh Gymnasium. In year's past, the Hawks have hosted the championship at Southern New Hampshire University.
  • Guers, a two-time Northeast-10 Player of the Year recipient, has scored at least 20 points in all but one of his last 14 games played. In that span, he is averaging 22.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, making just shy of 43% of his three-point field goal attempts (36-for-85).
  • With 2,243 career points, Guers is fourth in all-time Northeast-10 Conference history in point scoring.
  • The Hawks began the NCAA Division II postseason ranked third in all of NCAA Division II in defensive rebounds per game (30.15) and were 12th nationally with 402 total fouls, ranking second in the NE10.
  • Saint Anselm is currently atop in the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.31), defensive rebounds per game (30.3), field goal percentage defense (.410), rebound margin (4.9), scoring margin (11.6), scoring offense (83.9), and total rebounds per game (39.2).
  • Guers' 37.8 minutes per game stands as the second-most minutes played in the NE10 and, entering the week, he was ranked 14th in NCAA Division II in minutes played.
  • Saint Anselm has overcome a deficit in 21 of its 28 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 40.0% clip from beyond the arc (250-for-625), the 10th-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 23-5 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 640-333 overall record entering his next game, Dickson is only four 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 5.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game to date, Ball ranks fifth in the NE10 in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.9) and three-point field goal percentage (41.5%). He is averaging 13.5points per game to date.
  • Paul earned Honorable Mention distinction following the season after drawing All-Rookie Team praise last year. Averaging a career-high 14.5 points per game through 28 games, Paul is shooting exactly 50% from the floor (153-for-206) while securing 6.2 rebounds per contest. 

NEW HAVEN NOTABLES 

  • New Haven is in the midst of a 21-9 campaign, falling in the NE10 Championship game to Merrimack on Mar. 9 by a 51-46 score in Charger Gymnasium. The Chargers knocked off Bentley by a 70-69 score in the quarterfinals before cruising to a win over Southern Conn. St. in the semifinals.
  • The Chargers are making their first appearance in the East Region semifinals since the 2013 season, having earned one of five at-large bids to the NCAA Division II Tournament this year. New Haven is in search of its first trip to the East Region title game under Head Coach Ted Hotaling.
  • Hotaling is the winningest coach in New Haven history, owning a 140-113 overall record. Prior to joining the Chargers, he was an assistant coach at Eastern Kentucky, Yale and Adelphi. He also had a brief stint as an assistant coach for New Haven during the 2000-01 campaign. He was a Hall of Fame student-athlete at Albany from 1991-95.
  • New Haven is nationally-ranked in scoring defense, most recently checking in as the 13th-ranked team in NCAA Division II by yielding only 65.7 points per game. Against Daemen, the Chargers allowed only 67 points, just a tad over their per-game averages.
  • Junior Elijah Bailey has reached double-digit scoring totals for 22 consecutive games entering Sunday's tilt against Saint Anselm. He was a First Team All-Conference nod, ranking among the top-10 in the league in scoring, and he also cracked the 1,000 career point list.
  • Derrick Rowland was named to the "Honorable Mention" list by the NE10 and first-year Quashawn Lane was picked to the All-Rookie Team. Rowland averages just shy of 13 points per game, handing out a team-leading 100 assists, with Lane shooting at a team-best 57.2% clip from the floor. 

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 15-24 (.385).
  • 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.
  • New Haven owns a 4-9 record in the NCAA Championship, having secured its first tournament win since 2013 last evening against Daemen.
  • The Chargers last made it to the East Region title game in 1988, falling to Mass.-Lowell by an 84-72 margin at home. 

ALL-TIME vs. NEW HAVEN 

  • Saint Anselm owns a 16-8 record against New Haven in the all-time series that dates back to Dec. 28, 1984, a 75-62 win for the Hawks.
  • The Hawks have won four straight contests against New Haven dating back to Jan. 30, 2016. The two teams met in the NE10 Semifinals on Mar. 5, 2014 and, in that game, the Chargers came away with a 27-point victory in Stoutenburgh Gymnasium.