MANCHESTER, N.H. – The nationally-ranked Saint Anselm College men's basketball team held on for a 70-69 victory over the University of New Haven on Sunday in the semifinal round of the NCAA Division II East Region Championship.
Top-seeded Saint Anselm improves to 24-5 overall on the season, winning as many games for the first time since the 2005-06 campaign, and will battle sixth-seeded Saint Thomas Aquinas for the NCAA Division II East Region Championship this Tuesday, Mar. 19 at 7:00 p.m. in Stoutenburgh Gymnasium. New Haven, the No. 4 seed, sees its season come to a close with a record of 21-10.
The Hawks will make their sixth-ever appearance at the East Region title game, having most recently earned a spot there in 2016. Saint Anselm has never hosted an NCAA postseason contest in Stoutenburgh Gymnasium and will seek its first East Region crown since 2000. The Elite Eight will be held in Evansville, Ind. beginning on Mar. 27.
Senior Cody Ball (Londonderry, N.H.) logged all 40 minutes for the Hawks, scoring a team-best 16 points and passing the 1,400 mark for his career. He also played in his 120th career game on the Hilltop, matching Brendan McCarthy's all-time team record set from 1992-96. Senior Tim Guers (Langhorne, Pa.) also did not come off the court, scoring 14 points and handing out seven assists alongside five rebounds. Sophomore Gustav Suhr-Jessen (Virum, Denmark) scored 15 points and tallied five rebounds.
Guers recorded his 500th career assist in the victory and finished the game with exactly 234 career three-point baskets, finding his way on the program's top-10 list by matching the three-point production of Chris Conroy '05 and John Freiermuth '92 for ninth place all-time. He also exited play with 787 career rebounds, passing John O'Connell '96 to rank seventh all-time.
With Saint Anselm ahead by eight points with 6:37 to go in regulation time, the Chargers used a 13-to-6 scoring run across the game's next 5:31 to trim the Hawks lead to one point, 68-67. With 36 seconds left, sophomore Chris Paul (Highland Mills, N.Y.) made a layup in the paint to recreate a three-point lead but New Haven was not going away quietly.
After two missed free throws by Saint Anselm, Quashawn Lane missed a layup and the ball went out of bounds off of a Hawks student-athlete. Roy Kane, Jr. had another crack at the basket, missing a jumper in the paint and, after yet another missed shot, had a chance for the game-winning bucket with 1.6 seconds left. Guers threw up a key block on defense, locking down the victory.
Saint Anselm took control of the first half with a 19-to-5 scoring run shortly into the game, taking a 9-6 deficit and creating a 25-14 advantage with 9:15 to go. Ball had two of his team's four triples in that span, including back-to-back treys that sandwiched a key block by sophomore Alonzo Jackson (Medford, Mass.).
Ahead by four points at the break, 35-31, the Hawks allowed eight-straight points between the first and second half as New Haven assumed a 36-35 lead. A Guers trey with only 2:26 expired in the second half put the Hawks ahead for good – the Chargers tied the game on three occasions in the second half but were unable to overcome the Hawks on the scoreboard.
Saint Anselm generated 11 fast-break points and notched 20 points off of 12 combined New Haven miscues. The Hawks finished by shooting just shy of 55% from the floor (28-for-51), making eight treys on 19 attempts from beyond the arc.
Kane, Jr. scored a career-high 28 points, adding nine rebounds for the Chargers in 40 minutes of work. Elijah Bailey scored 21 points for New Haven, rounding out the double-digit point scorers.