MANCHESTER, N.H. – Senior Mike Stys (Hooksett, N.H.) and sophomore Rodney Sanders (Linden, N.J.) (pictured) each finished with 21 points as Southern New Hampshire University defeated Saint Michael's College 69-66 in Northeast-10 men's basketball Saturday afternoon at the SNHU Fieldhouse. The Penmen upped their record to 3-2 and 1-2 in the NE-10, while the Purple Knights suffered their first loss of the season and are now 5-1 and 1-1 in the league.
The 21 points marked a career high for Stys as he finished 7-13 from the floor, including 3-7 behind the arc, and 4-6 at the free throw line. Sanders was one point shy of his career high on 8-21 shooting (4-4 FT). Aleksandar Dobrovic (Podgorica, Montenegro) totaled nine points and eight rebounds, while Phillip Tripodakis (Athens, Greece) had nine points off the bench. CJ Marriro (Boston, Mass.) added eight points.
Corey Crawford II led Saint Michael's with 21 points, while Dom Ditlefsen added 15 points on 6-8 shooting.
Southern New Hampshire trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half and 31-25 at halftime. The Penmen gradually chipped away, and a Sanders pullup with 6:36 remaining gave the hosts their first lead of the second half, 53-52. Crawford knocked down a three on Saint Michael's next trip down the floor, but a pair of Stys free throws tied the game 55-55 with 5:48 to go. Matt Bonds made a free throw with 5:29 left to give the Purple Knights a 56-55 lead, but a pair of Marriro free throws with 4:32 left gave SNHU the lead for good. A Tripodakis three with 1:54 left capped a 7-0 run and put the Penmen on top 62-56.
Saint Michael's refused to go away, and a three by Crawford with 40 seconds left made it a 62-59 ballgame. The Penmen went 7-10 at the free throw line to preserve the win, but not before the guests made it 66-63 with eight seconds to go on a Crawford basket, and a Crawford three with four seconds left after a pair of Marriro free throws made it 68-66. Stys made 1-of-2 at the line to make it 69-66. Crawford got a look at a game-tying three from five feet behind the arc, but his attempt rimmed out as time expired.
The two teams traded the lead five times in the early going before an 11-0 Purple Knight run capped by a pair of Crawford free throws at the midway point of the first half made it 20-12. Saint Michael's took its largest lead, 26-15, with 6:32 to go before halftime on a Ditlefsen basket, and carried a 31-25 lead into the locker room.
Southern New Hampshire shot just 34.9% for the contest and just 6-30 behind the arc, but took advantage of its opportunities at the free throw line, going 19-26 while the Purple Knights were just 12-24 at the stripe. The Penmen were outrebounded 41-33 but committed just three turnovers. Saint Michael's shot 44.4% for the game and made six of its 14 three-point attempts.
SNHU returns to action Tuesday night when it travels to unbeaten Bentley University for a 7:30 Northeast-10 contest. The next Penmen home game is slated for Wednesday, December 4 when SNHU welcomes Franklin Pierce University for a 7:30 tilt.
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