There’s an ever-changing game of “David versus Goliath” when Saint Anselm College and Southern New Hampshire University meet in men’s basketball.
Both clubs have been in the thick of the Northeast-10 Conference playoff picture over the last decade, but the head-to-head matchups always seem to come with one of the crosstown rivals sitting in a position of power.
The upper hand currently belongs to the Hawks as they visit the Penmen at Stan Spirou Field House on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. for the first of two regular-season meetings.
Saint Anselm enters Wednesday’s tilt with a 4-0 record and ranked fourth nationally in last week’s NCAA Division II coaches poll. It’s a program-best ranking for the Hawks, whose previous top rank came in 1996 when they were voted fifth.
The early numbers suggest the Hawks’ ranking is no fluke. Saint Anselm ranks in the top-20 nationally in points per game (90.5), rebound margin (10.8) and defensive rebounds per game (31). Those top numbers will play to Saint Anselm’s favor against SNHU on Wednesday. While SNHU (4-2, 1-1 NE-10) has played two more games than Saint Anselm, the Hawks are still averaging 10 more points a game than the Penmen.
Last Tuesday’s 92-66 conference victory over Stonehill marked the third time Saint Anselm has scored at least 90 points this season. SNHU has eclipsed 90 points just once this season (a double-overtime win on Sunday), which means the Penmen will either need to find their defensive bearings early or match the Hawks shot for shot offensively.
Reigning Northeast-10 Player of the Year Tim Guers is back leading the offense again for the Saint Anselm. His 18.5 points a game lead the team while three others are averaging double-digit points.
Londonderry’s Cody Ball has taken his game a step further in each of his first three seasons with the Hawks and the start to his senior season has him on track to do so again. Sophomores Chris Paul and Gustav Suhr-Jessen are impact players this season as well.
SNHU could try to catch Saint Anselm sleeping. Wednesday will be the first game in a week for the Hawks while the Penmen snapped a two-game losing skid with a 99-91 double-overtime triumph against Post on Sunday.
The Penmen and first-year coach Jack Perri continue to navigate the peaks and valleys of acclimating themselves to one another. Perri is using his bench so far: Ten players have averaged at least seven minutes.
Senior Daquaise Andrews is entrenched as SNHU’s go-to scorer as he’s averaging a team-high 23.2 points in 36.5 minutes. Fellow senior Charlie Russo is averaging just 8.2 points a game, but Perri has praised Russo’s two-way play and ability to be a lockdown defender. Junior transfer Shawn Montague, who is averaging 15 points a game thus far for SNHU, might be in line for more offensive touches as the season, and his level of comfort, progresses.