MANCHESTER — Much of Wednesday’s men’s basketball rivalry game between Saint Anselm College and Southern New Hampshire University was played neck and neck. That was, until the Hawks’ pedigree finally showed up.
A pair of late spurts by the Hawks with under 10 minutes left finally broke them free of the Penmen and led to a 76-63 Northeast-10 Conference win at Stan Spirou Field House. Saint Anselm (5-0, 2-0 NE-10) led for 33 of 40 minutes, including the entire second half, but was only up 50-49 on SNHU prior to changing the game’s complexion with a 12-2 scoring swing.
The Penmen (4-3, 1-2 NE-10) immediately cut the lead back to three points after the run, however, the Hawks then spun off a 14-4 stretch to close out the contest.
“(The first scoring run) probably looked like a lot more than it was,” Saint Anselm coach Keith Dickson said. “That’s really where you need to put the game away, and we didn’t. We made turnovers right away and let them back in the game. To our credit, though, we found another run.”
The late runs for Saint Anselm were paced by Tim Guers (team-high 28 points), Chris Paul (18 points) and Gustav Suhr-Jessen (17 points). Paul scored half of the Hawks’ points in the 12-2 stretch while Guers posted eight points in the closing run.
“We won this game because we made timely plays on offense with some big baskets,” Dickson said. “Gus and Tim made some huge shots during that final stretch and I think we stopped them almost every possession over the last five minutes. We did a very nice job on defense like that throughout the night.”
Dickson commended his team for its resilience, but said the players were not in sync offensively overall after 10 days between games. The final output on Wednesday was 14 points off the Hawks’ season average and they were just 5 of 17 from 3-point range.
While Saint Anselm’s inefficient offense allowed SNHU to remain on its hip for much of the contest, the Penmen were also far from sharp offensively. SNHU shot 36 percent from the field, including 29 percent in the first half, while going scoreless on five of its final six possessions in the game.
“It was pretty consistent the whole game that we did not play well offensively,” SNHU coach Jack Perri said. “Was it part them? Maybe. I really thought we didn’t execute. We were standing a lot instead of cutting cuts and going after what we wanted to do. We also missed some shots we normally make, which had us constantly playing in transition.”
SNHU’s offensive woes showed with leading scorer Daquaise Andrews being held to just 12 points on 5-for-17 shooting. Shawn Montague led the Penmen with 16 points.
Limiting Andrews’ elite efforts was all part of the plan, according to Dickson.
“He’s the focus and means everything to that team,” said Dickson of Andrews. “You can’t let him start getting in the painted area and on the foul line. Not without being contested. So we kind of packed it in on him, leaving him very little room to operate.”