MANCHESTER, N.H. – Saint Anselm College has won its second NCAA Division II Men's Basketball East Region Championship, downing the Spartans from Saint Thomas Aquinas College by a 74-49 score on Tuesday in a sold out Stoutenburgh Gymnasium.
Saint Anselm (25-5), the top seed in the East Region, recorded its largest-ever NCAA postseason margin of victory with the result and advances to its first NCAA Division II Elite Eight since the 1999-00 season. Saint Anselm has now claimed 2019 regional titles in both men's and women's basketball, becoming the first East Region institution to accomplish that feat in one season.
In an announcement late Tuesday evening, it was revealed that the Hawks are seeded fifth in the upcoming Elite Eight and will battle fourth-seeded Nova Southeastern, the South Region champions, at high noon on Wednesday, Mar. 27. Additional information about the match-up will be revealed in the coming days.
The Hawks, currently ranked 20th in NCAA Division II by the National Association of Basketball Coaches, led Saint Thomas Aquinas (25-7), the champion of the 2017 regionals, by as many as 30 points near the midpoint of the second half. Saint Anselm was hosting its first-ever East Regional championship within the friendly confines of its home gym and improves to 82-17 since 2012-13 when playing on the Hilltop.
Senior Tim Guers (Langhorne, Pa.) was named the Most Outstanding Player of the East Regional, pouring home 16 points with nine assists and six rebounds in the title game against the Spartans. He finished the three-game regional averaging 17 points per game, falling just shy of a double-double with 9.7 rebounds per game and a team-best 17 assists.
Guers also set the team record for career defensive rebounds (650), passing Darlington Okerulu '06 who notched 648 from 2002-06.
Classmate Cody Ball (Londonderry, N.H.), an All-Tournament selection, and sophomore Chris Paul (Highland Mills, N.Y.) each scored 16 points, matching Guers' output. Sophomore Gustav Suhr-Jessen (Virum, Denmark) and junior Danny Evans (Leeds, United Kingdom) each scored eight points with Suhr-Jessen recording as many assists, falling one shy of Guers for the team lead.
Ball made his 121st appearance in a Hawks uniform in the game, setting the all-time mark to pass Brendan McCarthy '96 and his 120 games played from 1992 to 1996.
Saint Thomas Aquinas pulled ahead with its first shot of the game coming from beyond the arc and kept pace with the Hawks in the game's opening minutes, tying the game at nine following an Osber Caraballo jumper in the paint.
Saint Anselm followed with a strong scoring run, striking for 18 of the game's next 23 points to capture a 27-14 advantage with 8:08 left in the first half. At one point, the Hawks canned 10-straight points to swing the momentum in their favor.
Across a 22-plus minute stretch of game play from the midpoint of the first half to the midpoint of the second, the Hawks outscored the Spartans by a 47-17 margin and built a comfortable 56-26 lead following Ball's second-consecutive three-point basket.
Throughout the final 15-plus minutes of regulation, the Hawks led by no fewer than 24 points on their way to the victory. Tuesday's score was the third-largest margin of victory in any postseason game (NE10 or NCAA), trailing the all-time mark of 37 points scored against Quinnipiac on Feb. 24, 1996 in the Northeast-10 Conference Quarterfinals.
Saint Thomas Aquinas was led by eight points from both Caraballo and Jamar Sudan. The Spartans hauled in 12 of the game's 22 offensive rebounds, but Saint Anselm finished with edges in field goal percentage (54.7%-to-34.4%) and assists (14-to-8).