When and Where: March 2, 2016 – Manchester, N.H. (Stoutenburgh Gymnasium)
Score: Southern New Hampshire University 75, Saint Anselm College 59
Records: SNHU 21-10, Saint Anselm 21-7
Following three straight come-from-behind victories for the Southern New Hampshire University men's basketball team, there was no drama Wednesday night as the Penmen nearly led wire-to-wire in a Northeast-10 Championship semifinal at Saint Anselm College.
Senior Rodney Sanders (Elizabeth, N.J.) scored a game-high 22 points as Southern New Hampshire defeated Saint Anselm – the top-ranked team in the East Region – for the second time in eight days, 75-59, at Stoutenburgh Gymnasium.
Southern New Hampshire, seeded fourth in the Northeast Division, advances to its fourth ever Northeast-10 Championship title game where it will face the Northeast's top seed, Bentley University, on Saturday, March 5 (1 p.m.) at the Dana Center. Saint Anselm, the second seed in the Northeast, falls one game short of making its second straight NE-10 final and will await its seeding for the NCAA East Regional.
Sanders wasn't his normal efficient self shooting the ball from deep, but didn't need to be as timely shots and stifling defense led the way for the Penmen. Sanders was 9 of 17 from the field, including 2 of 7 from beyond the arc, and 2 of 2 at the line, while pulling down six rebounds and handing out three assists. Redshirt-sophomore Chris Walters (Stamford, Conn.) posted 16 points (4-8 FG, 2-3 3-FG, 6-6 FT), eight rebounds and two steals, while junior Adrian Oliveira (Pawtucket, R.I.), one game after matching his career high with 13 points in a quarterfinal win at Southern Connecticut on Sunday, netted a career-best 14 points (5-7 FG, 1-2 3-FG, 3-3 FT), including 10 in the first half.
Mike McCahey and Victor Joshua each scored 14 points for Saint Anselm, while Chris Braley added 12.
Southern New Hampshire moved out to a 4-0 lead in the first minute on baskets by Oliveira and fellow junior Devin Gilligan (Amherst, N.H.), before the Hawks evened it up 30 seconds later. SNHU would grab the lead for good just 1:58 into the contest on a jumper from Sanders that sparked a 10-0 run, which gave the Penmen a 14-4 advantage with 15:18 remaining in the opening half.
Saint Anselm would whittle the deficit to seven less than three-and-a-half minutes later, but back-to-back right-wing 3-pointers from Walters stretched the lead to 25-12 at the 8:54 mark. A 6-2 spurt from the Hawks would shave the margin to single digits, but a 12-2 counter-run – with six points from Oliveira – ballooned the Southern New Hampshire lead to 19 at 39-20 with under four minutes to play. The Penmen would lead 43-28 at the break.
With the gap at 14 more than five-and-a-half minutes into the second stanza, five points from Sanders powered a 10-0 streak that broke the game open and gave the Penmen their largest lead of the contest at 59-35 with 10:14 left.
The hosts crafted a 13-4 run – with six points from McCahey and five from Joshua – over two minutes later that trimmed the deficit to 67-52 with 4:38 on the clock. Saint Anselm would not get closer than that as Walters and Oliveira each contributed four points to an 8-4 run that bumped the lead to 19 and held off the Hawks.
Senior BJ Cardarelli (Manchester, Conn.) notched seven points (2-8 FG, 1-2 3-FG, 2-2 FT) and seven boards. Freshman Daquaise Andrews (Queens, N.Y.) added six points (3-7 FG) and two rebounds, while Gilligan chipped in five points (2-7 FG, 1-2 FT) and four boards.
-Southern New Hampshire advances to the Northeast-10 title game for the first time since 2013 – the year it captured its only NE-10 crown. The Penmen also made trips to the finals in 2003 and 2004.
-The crosstown rivals had met 63 times previously, with SNHU holding a 32-31 edge in the all-time series, but had never squared off in the Northeast-10 Championship. Saint Anselm won the first regular-season meeting (76-58) on its home floor back on Nov. 18, while the Penmen squeaked out a 70-68 win in double-overtime at the Fieldhouse on Feb. 23.
-SNHU has won 11 of its last 13 games, including six of seven and four straight.
-Southern New Hampshire is now 18-11 (.621) all-time in the Northeast-10 Championship, including 4-3 in the semifinal round. SNHU has won eight of its last 10 games in the conference tournament.
-Southern New Hampshire outshot Saint Anselm, 46.6 percent (27-58) to 38.7 percent (24-62), including 31.6 percent (6-19) to 13.6 percent (3-22). SNHU was also nearly perfect at the line, sinking 15 of 16 (93.8%), while the Hawks nailed 8 of 9 (88.9%).
-The Penmen beat Saint Anselm at Stoutenburgh for just the second time in the previous 11 meetings. The margin of victory is also the largest for SNHU across the river since an 84-55 win Dec. 14, 2003. The Hawks were 13-1 at coming into the game.
-The 59 points scored are a season low for Saint Anselm, which came in ranked second in the league with 86.2 points per game. The Hawks, who entered the day leading the conference in both field goal percentage (50.6%) and 3-point field goal percentage (43.7%), were held to season lows in field goals, 3-point field goals, field goal percentage and 3-point field goal percentage.
-The Hawks won the glass (36-34) and the paint (38-30), while the Penmen produced a marginally better assist-to-turnover ratio (8/7 – 12/11) that led to a 15-9 advantage in points off turnovers.
-The Penmen improve to 16-2 when holding their opponents to 70 points or fewer, 9-0 when limiting them to less than 40 percent shooting and 18-2 when keeping them to 40 percent or less from long distance.
-Walters snapped a streak of three straight double-doubles, but has now registered double digits in points in 15 consecutive games he has played in.
The Penmen are back in action Saturday, March 5 (1 p.m.) when they battle Bentley (21-7) in the Northeast-10 Championship Game at the Dana Center. The winner will earn the conference's automatic qualifier for the NCAA Tournament.
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