GOFFSTOWN — Stoutenburgh Gymnasium has always been kind to the Saint Anselm College men’s basketball team. However, not even the comfort of the home court could help what ails the Hawks these days.
An 18-game home winning streak came to a close for Saint Anselm on Saturday in a 69-65 Northeast-10 Conference setback to Le Moyne. The Hawks and Dolphins played a nip-and-tuck affair, but Saint Anselm ultimately faltered when Chris Paul was unable to score on two attempts to tie the game off a designed play with eight seconds to play. Malik Garner dropped a pair of free throws once Le Moyne got the ball back to seal the win.
Despite winning three of four entering Saturday’s tilt, Saint Anselm (15-3, 11-2 NE-10) has been scuffling by its own standards in recent weeks.
“This is how seasons go,” Saint Anselm coach Keith Dickson said. “Sometimes you have great rhythm and other times you don’t. Right now we’re playing with some guys struggling individually that were playing better earlier. We have to work our way out of it. This league is hard and we knew this team wouldn’t be easy to score on.”
Tim Guers gave Saint Anselm his standard performance, scoring a team-high 22 points to go with six rebounds and four assists. Chris Paul and Gustav Suhr-Jessen were limited to 11 and 10 points, which were both below season averages. Le Moyne (10-7, 7-5 NE-10) had four players in double figures with Kobi Nwandu posting a team-high 20 points to lead that group.
Saturday marked the first time all year that Saint Anselm failed to score 70 points in a game. Neither team had a lead greater than nine in the game and Saint Anselm’s best advantage was just five points with 13 minutes to play. That lead was eventually erased by a pair of Nwandu free throws with 9:06 left that put Le Moyne ahead for the final time.
Saint Anselm kept the game within a possession after Le Moyne took its final lead, but the Hawks did not make the most of the limited touches they got down the stretch. Key free throws by Suhr-Jessen and Guers in the final two minutes set the stage for Paul’s looks in the closing seconds.
“We isolated a side for Chris and had the ball 2 feet away from the basket,” Dickson said. “We just didn’t complete the play. That’s what happens when you get in possession games like this. You end up with who is going to make more big plays and they did.”
The Dolphins took control down the stretch with extended possessions, which kept the ball out of the Hawks’ hands and slowed the game down to a pace that didn’t suit Saint Anselm.
“A lot of the teams on that side of the league play like this,” Dickson said. “It makes the game more grinding. Then when you get behind when its close, it just plays into their hands. We could never put anything together to pull away.”
The chance for the Hawks to redeem themselves comes Wednesday with a 7:30 p.m. tilt on the road against Saint Rose. Dickson doesn’t see a need for wholesale changes to right the ship, but he is hoping his players will use the loss as a wakeup call.
“Personally, I see it as more individual than it is our group,” Dickson said. “Sometimes there are technical things wrong with a group that are easy for me to fix. Other times guys are missing shots or have lost their confidence. … There’s no easy fixes to any of this. You go through periods when you click and when you don’t, and guys need to work through it.”
LeMoyne women win
GOFFSTOWN — The task was simply too much for the Saint Anselm College women’s basketball team on Saturday. After keeping pace with Le Moyne during the opening half, the Hawks were steamrolled by the Dolphins over the final 20 minutes of a 70-53 Northeast-10 Conference loss at Stoutenburgh Gymnasium.
Shannon Ryan’s double-double (28 points, 12 rebounds) paced Saint Anselm (14-4, 9-4 NE-10), but it came by on 12-of-29 shooting. Durham’s Sara Messler followed Ryan with nine points for the Hawks. McKayla Roberts led Le Moyne, winners of 12 straight, and all scorers with a game-high 33 points, including 12-for-12 shooting from the free-throw line.
Saint Anselm’s downfall came in the third quarter, where Le Moyne finished with a 20-9 edge while the Hawks shot just 4-for-22 from the field in the quarter. The Dolphins remained steady throughout the fourth quarter as their lead never fell below 14.
The third-quarter slipup came after the Hawks were down just six at halftime and even held a lead midway through the second quarter.
Le Moyne ended the first half on an 8-2 spurt to give them the lead for good at the break.
The Hawks were also hurt by rare loss in team rebounding (44-43) while the Dolphins shot twice as many free throws (23-12).