MANCHESTER, N.H. – Led by a game-high 26 points from Northeast-10 Conference Tournament Most Valuable Player Cody Ball, the No. 2-seed Saint Anselm College men's basketball team captured its eighth NE10 Tournament Championship with a 73-68 victory over top-seeded Southern New Hampshire University on Saturday afternoon in Manchester, N.H.
Saint Anselm improves to 20-8 with the victory, and the Hawks' eighth NE10 Championship is the first since the 2006 season. The Hawks now await word on where they will travel for the NCAA Tournament with the selection show to air on Sunday night at 10:30 p.m. Southern New Hampshire drops to 21-8 and will also find out their NCAA Tournament destination tomorrow night.
Cody Ball highlighted three selections to the All-Tournament team as he was joined by senior Harrison Taggart and junior Taylor Fortin. SNHU's Devin Gilligan and Daquaise Andrews also earned spots on the All-Tournament squad.
Ball knocked down 7-of-13 shots, including 6-of-10 attempts from beyond the arc, while connecting on all six of his free throws to lead the Hawks. Tim Guers added a double-double of 16 points and 12 rebounds to go with four assists, while Taggart also registered a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds to go with three blocks. Taylor Fortin joined them in double-figures with 13 points, while Chris Braley hauled in eight boards.
SNHU had four players reach double-figures, led by 19 points from Dimitri Floras. Daquaise Andrews added 13 points, while Chris Walters had a double-double of 12 points and 14 rebounds. Devin Gilligan registered 12 points and seven rebounds in the setback.
Much like their NE10 Semifinal matchup at Le Moyne, the Hawks found themselves in an early hole again as the Penmen raced out to a 9-0 lead including four points from Chris Walters and five from Daquaise Andrews. Taylor Fortin rattled home a jumper for the Hawks' first field goal, but Andrews scored again for SNHU to make it an 11-2 game with 16:06 to play in the opening half.
Saint Anselm answered with a 10-0 run out of the media timeout to grab their first lead of the game at 12-11 as Chris Braley banked home a jumper and Cody Ball scored eight-straight points. Tim Guers connected on a three-pointer to make it a 15-11 game and SNHU was forced to burn a timeout with 12:53 remaining. The two teams would trade baskets until a Grant Mackay layup and a pair of Harrison Taggart free throws put the Hawks in front 21-16.
Taggart would give the Hawks a 34-22 lead with a three-pointer to cap a 13-6 run by the visitors with 6:21 remaining. The Penmen answered with a run of their own, using an 11-2 stretch to climb back to 36-33 with 1:27 to play. Cody Ball ended the run with a three pointer, but SNHU scored the final four points of the half to make it a 39-37 game headed into the break.
Southern New Hampshire wasted no time tying the game early in the second half as a pull up jumper from Dimitri Floras knotted the game at 41-all with 17:50 remaining. Floras gave the Penmen a 43-41 lead before Cody Ball knocked down two free throws to tie the game back up at 43-43. SNHU answered again with four-straight points, but a three-point play by Taylor Fortin pulled the Hawks back to 47-46 with 14:18 to play.
Guers eventually tied the game at 49-49 with a free throw before Cody Ball drilled back-to-back three-pointers to give the Hawks a 55-49 lead and force a SNHU timeout with 9:59 to play. Adrian Oliveira scored to make it a 55-51 game, but Ball followed his own miss and earned two free throws to give the Hawks a 57-51 advantage. On the next SNHU possession, Taggart blocked a three-pointer and went in for the layup to put the Hawks in front 59-51 with 8:32 remaining.
Jerome Harris sandwiched three-pointers around a Tim Guers bucket before the sophomore and Floras traded layups to put the Hawks ahead, 65-59, with 5:44 to play. Another Floras layup trimmed the lead to 65-61, and Guers answered with two free throws to keep it a six-point advantage at 67-61. The Penmen would then take their turn at the charity stripe as Floras and Harris combined to go 3-for-4 at the free throw line to climb back to 67-64 and four minutes to play.
Out of a timeout, Gilligan worked himself free for a layup to make it a one-point game, but Cody Ball buried a three-pointer to extend the lead back to 70-66 with 1:20 remaining. Floras hit a pair of free throws to make it a 70-68, and after a stop by the Penmen, Fortin stripped Floras going to the basket which eventually led to a Taggart free throw to put the Hawks ahead 71-68 with 21 seconds to play.
The Penmen came up the floor looking to tie and Harris had a good look at a three from the top of the key, but it missed everything, landing out of bounds and giving Saint Anselm possession back with six seconds remaining. The Hawks inbounded to Cody Ball, who was immediately fouled, and the sophomore calmly sunk the two freebies to seal the NE10 crown for the Hawks.
Saint Anselm shot 42.1% (24-of-57) from the floor, 42.5% (10-of-23) from beyond the arc and 78.9% (15-of-19) at the free throw line in the victory. SNHU ended the game shooting 35.1% (26-of-74) from the field, 20.8% (5-of-24) from three and 91.7% (11-of-12) from the charity stripe. The Hawks held a 48-36 advantage in rebounds, but committed 18 turnovers to just six for the Penmen, which SNHU turned into 23 points off turnovers.
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