GOFFSTOWN — It was the first time the Saint Anselm men’s basketball team had ever played an NCAA tournament game in Stoutenburgh Gym and the Hawks did not disappoint.
The Hawks used a run in the first 10 minutes of the second half to get all the space they needed as they beat a physical Molloy College team 81-71 in front of a packed house.
The game was close throughout the first half, but the Hawks, who were playing their first game in 13 days, opened an 11-point lead in the first 10 minutes of the second half, and the Lions were unable to find a way back. Molloy made small runs in the second half but never got closer than six.
“Two things happen to us when we have a lot of time off: we get beat up on the boards and we turn it over too much,” Saint Anselm coach Keith Dickson said. “In the first half I think we had seven so we got ahold of ourselves turnover wise in the second half, but we never got a hold of ourselves on the boards which is, quite honestly, the only reason they stayed in the game.”
Molloy outrebounded Saint Anselm 53-45 but was held to only 11 second-chance points. The strong defensive performance allowed the Hawks high-powered offense to thrive. The Hawks were led by offensively by 23 points from sophomore forward Chris Paul, who also grabbed 11 rebounds.
“Chris was terrific,” Dickson said. “If he had made his free throws that turns into a monster performance. We found him on the baseline, in zone offense. The ball found Chris, and Chris finished. We thought we had an advantage in his spot.”
Senior captain Tim Guers had 21 points while playing the entire game and added game highs with 15 rebounds and four rebounds.
Londonderry native, Cody Ball added 16 points of his own. A three from Ball with a little over four minutes to go gave the Hawks a 13-point lead and proved to be the dagger.
Saint Anselm had 10 assists on 26 made field goals.
“When we move the ball well, and play the way we’re used to, we get open shots,” Ball said. “We just made shots down the stretch.”
The first half neither team was able to lead by more than six as both sides hit clutch shots and rebounded well. In the second half the Hawks only turned the ball over twice and really dialed it in on the defensive end and built a lead.
Freshman Miles Tention came off the bench and had eight huge points in the second half to give Saint Anselm an added dynamic in the final 20 minutes.
“We needed someone to make a play,” Guers said of Tention. “[Molloy was] trying to make a run in the last eight minutes. I don’t think Miles is afraid to make a play. He’s a competitor. I’ll get more attention on defense, but I have confidence in Miles and everyone else on the court. If Miles is open I want him to shoot that shot.”
Molloy, champions of the East Coast Conference, was led by 21 points from Nick Corbett and 17 points from Curtis Jenkins.
The win sends Saint Anselm to the round of 32 where it will play New Haven or Daemen, two teams that Hawks have already played this season.
“It definitely helps that we played them earlier this year,” Guers said. “We remember those games. It definitely helps in a one-day turnaround where you only have a film session and a walkaround to prepare.”
St. Anselm 50, Stonehill 50: The Hawks beat a Northeast-10 foe for the second straight day Saturday in the Division II Northeast Regionals in Philadelphia. Conference Player of the Year Shannon Ryan had a monster game with 14 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Hawks (20-9). Sara Messler added 14 points, and Peyton Steinman scored 11 points.
Kayla Raymond had a game-hig h16 for Stonehill. Isabelle Santoro scored 13.
The Hawks will face either University of the Sciences or LeMoyne in Monday night’s regional final. The winner goes to the Elite Eight.