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January 12. 2013 9:17PM

Men's Basketball: St. A outlasts AIC

GOFFSTOWN ­- Keith Dickson collected victory No. 499 during his 27-year career as the St. Anselm College men's basketball coach Saturday, but he had to sweat more than he wanted to to get it.

Dickson watched his team build an 18-point halftime lead against American International College, and then watched that lead evaporate over the final 20 minutes. St. Anselm couldn't celebrate its 66-65 triumph until after AIC missed three shots from close range on the game's final possession.

"I think for about 24 minutes we did everything we wanted to do," Dickson said. "Then for 16 we couldn't do anything right. I can't remember the last time I've seen things go so well and then go so poorly as quick as it did today. We were very fortunate to win the game. They missed three shots at the end when they could have made any one of them, so we'll put it in the win column and move forward."

The Hawks improved to 11-2 overall and 7-2 in the Northeast-10 with the victory. St. Anselm and Franklin Pierce are tied for second place in the conference, one game behind Assumption. Dickson will attempt to pick up victory No. 500 Tuesday, when St. Anselm plays Pace at home (7:30 p.m.).

"It speaks to longevity for one," Dickson said. "I've been in one place for a long time. I think if you find a place where you're happy and you can be successful - my personality is you stick around."

St. Anselm shot 61.3 percent from the field in the first half, when it led by as many as 20, but was limited to 21 points on 8-of-23 shooting in the second half. The Hawks missed seven of 12 free throws in the game.

"They ran with the momentum and it got to a point where it seemed like we couldn't do anything right," Dickson said. "It turned it into a nail-biter."

The Hawks had three players score in double figures, led by Roy Mabrey's 15 points. University of Vermont transfer Chris Santo tossed in 14, and Mike McCahey finished with 13. Santo scored 11 of his 14 points in the first half, when he made five of six field goal attempts in 11 minutes.

St. Anselm entered the game leading the conference in scoring (84.0 ppg).

"They're an explosive team - I get that - but they completely had their way (in the first half)," AIC coach Art Luptowski said. "They weren't even sweating. We finally started to play defense."

AIC guard Janek Schmidkunz led all scorers with 20 points. Point guard Spencer Braithwaite added 18 for the Yellow Jackets, who dropped to 5-8 overall and 2-7 in the NE-10.

"You don't want to throw away any wins," Santo said. "We never really stepped up and made a basket or made them miss in tough times, and we have to be able to do that. Once they got it to 10 points we needed someone to step up and make a play for us."

St. Anselm had a 66-63 lead with possession of the ball with 31.8 second left, but a turnover and a layup cut the lead to one. AIC's Al-Shabazz Jabateh stole the inbounds pass, but the Yellow Jackets had three shots roll off the rim in the final five seconds.

The victory was the sixth in a row for the Hawks, who have won nine of their last 10.

"I've coached enough to know there's a lot of different ways to win games," Dickson said. "We just found one that we don't feel that good about, but we'll take it."

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