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College Basketball: Balanced St. Anselm men top SNHU
Chris Santo of Saint Anselm drives between Nikola Canic, left and Elijah Bonsignore of SNHU during Wednesday's game. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)
St. Anselm College standouts Roy Mabrey and Mike McCahey combined for a paltry performance on offense, and the Hawks still managed to defeat Southern New Hampshire University, 75-52, on Wednesday night.
The home team had won the seven previous meetings between SNHU and St. A, but the Hawks had too many weapons to lose at the Fieldhouse. Sophomore Chris Santo scored a career-high 23 points, and James Morse added 14 for the winners.
St. Anselm, ranked 15th in the nation, improved to 17-3 overall and 13-3 in the NE-10. The Penmen fell to 12-8 (8-8 NE-10).
This was the kind of night that bodes well for St. Anselm in the postseason. The Hawks have enough depth to handle cold snaps and foul trouble in the biggest games.
"I thought we played awful in the first half. We had plenty of good shots but Roy and Michael went cold (shooting 1-for-13 in the half), and we kind of slogged our way through it," said St. Anselm coach Keith Dickson, whose team took a 32-27 lead into halftime. "I told the guys at halftime that it doesn't have to be pretty, but we have to find a way to get it done."
Mabrey had scored in double figures for 18 consecutive games entering Wednesday night. He finished with nine points, shooting 2-for-11 from the field with five free throws. McCahey was 2-for-9 from the floor and had six points. Those stats looked painful in the boxscore but didn't ultimately didn't matter in the win-loss column.
St. Anselm relied on several weapons to protect a double-digit lead throughout most of the second half. The highlight reel included:
A Santo pull-up jumper. A tricky in-bounds play and layup by Mabrey. Five consecutive made free throws. A Morse fastbreak layup. And a McCahey's corner 3-pointer - finally a shot went in - that gave the Hawks a 63-46 lead with 4:25 remaining.
"No other team in the league has that type of balance with five starters that can shoot it and put the ball on the floor. It's as good of a St. A team as I've seen in a while," SNHU coach Stan Spirou said. "They can make a lot of threes, and when the ball isn't going in, they'll find a way to hurt you with twos."
Santo went bananas in the second half. The 6-foot-6 reserve took control of the paint, making six field goals and scoring 13 points in the half. It's almost hard to believe that Santo is a reserve forward coming off the bench.
"Santo was probably the story of the game," Dickson said. "He's steady. He hasn't had many bad games. You can count on him every night, and there are times when he really gets it going. This kid is not a bench-type player, but we bring him off the bench. He's a terrific scorer at this level. You can just see it. When he has a matchup that he's comfortable with, you can't guard him."
The Hawks recalibrated in the second half and made 16 of 26 field goals for 61.5 percent. Overall, they shot 50.9 percent at Spirou Court. The Penmen couldn't buy a bucket in the second half and shot 33.3 percent for the game.
I think we managed to get a little bit better in the second half," Dickson said, "and (SNHU) never really did."