Comeback Falls Short for Men's Basketball at Saint Anselm, 71-66

Senior Carter Smith scored a game-high 20 points for the Skyhawks tonight. (PHOTO BY Mike Tureski/SportsPix)

Taggart double-double leads Hawks, who ride big first half run to key win  

MANCHESTER, N.H. (February 17, 2016) – Saint Anselm College, receiving votes in this week's National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Division II poll and ranked first in the first NCAA Division II East Regional rankings of the year released today, hung on down the stretch to claim a key 71-66 victory over Stonehill College, ranked fourth in the East Regional rankings, in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball action at Stoutenburgh Gymnasium tonight.

Junior Harrison Taggart (Wallingford, Connecticut/St. Paul's School) led Saint Anselm with a double-double of 19 points and ten rebounds, shooting 7-for-13 from the field, with five assists and a blocked shot. Senior Victor Joshua (New Haven, Connecticut/Hamden Hall) was the only other Hawk in double-figures with ten points on 4-of-8 shooting, converting both free-throws, with two assists. Sophomore Taylor Fortin (Tolland, Connecticut/Wilbraham & Monson) and freshman Tim Guers (Langhorne, Pennsylvania/Germantown Academy) each chipped in nine points. Fortin connected on all three three-point attempts and also collected five rebounds and three assists.

Senior Carter Smith (Columbus, Ohio/Upper Arlington) led Stonehill with a game-high 20 points as he made 7-of-20 shots from the floor, including 4-for-9 from three-point distance, with three assists. Senior Pierce Cumpstone (Bainbridge Township, Ohio/Kenston) posted a double-double for the fifth straight game and tenth time this season overall (14th career) with 13 points and a career-high 18 rebounds, while classmate Adam Bramanti (Middleton, Massachusetts/Masconomet Regional) contributed 14 points on 4-of-9 shooting, including 2-for-6 from beyond the arc, while converting both free-throws to go with four rebounds, four steals and two assists. Junior Ryan Logan (Fredericktown, Ohio/Fredericktown) chipped in with ten points, nine boards (four offensive) and three assists.

Saint Anselm shot 48.1-percent from the field (26-for-54), including 9-for-22 (40.9%) from three-point range, while converting 10-of-14 free-throws (71.4%) for the night. The Hawks reserves enjoyed a 22-3 advantage in bench points. Stonehill shot just 33.8-percent from the floor (24-for-71), including 8-for-23 (34.8%) from deep, canning 10-of-12 (83.3%) free-throws. The Skyhawks used a 46-33 rebounding advantage to record an 18-7 edge in second chance points to stay within reach.

Senior Pierce Cumpstone logged a double-double for the fifth straight game, collecting a career-high 18 rebounds. (PHOTO BY Mike Tureski/SportsPix)

Stonehill jumped out to an early lead, scoring ten of the first 14 points of the game after a basket by sophomore Joel Berroa (Lawrence, Massachusetts/Central Catholic) less than four minutes into the game. Saint Anselm followed with a 23-0 run over the next seven minutes to take control of the game (27-10) after two free-throws by freshman Cody Ball (Londonderry, New Hampshire/Londonderry) with nine minutes remaining in the first half. Guers drained two three-pointers for the Hawks during the run, while Taggart added six points and junior Grant Mackay (North Berwick, Scotland) contributed a three-point play.

Saint Anselm extended its lead to a game-high 24 points (37-13) after a Fortin triple with five minutes to play in the half. Fortin matched that margin with another three (40-16) a minute later before Stonehill scored the final 12 points of the half to cut the gap to 12 (40-28) at the intermission. Smith scored six of the Skyhawks points during that stretch, sparking the run with a three-pointer.

Stonehill chipped away in early in the second half, drawing within nine (46-37) with a three-pointer from sophomore Ryan Roach (Weymouth, Massachusetts/Cardinal Spellman) with 14:17 remaining and then closing the gap to eight (48-40) on a Bramanti three ball two minutes later. Saint Anselm was able to reclaim a 16 point cushion (56-40) on a Taggart layup midway through the half.

Saint Anselm's lead was still 16 (58-42) after two Joshua free-throws with 9:21 remaining before Stonehill used a 17-6 run to rally within five (64-59) after a Smith jumper with 4:19 on the clock. Smith scored eight points in all during the run, while Bramanti sparked the rally with a three. The Hawks scored four straight points to push their lead back to nine (68-59) on a Joshua jumper with 3:15 on the clock.

Stonehill followed with seven straight points to pull within a possession (68-66) on a Smith three-pointer with 39-seconds left. The Skyhawks fouled Taggart, who made both free-throws, with 19-seconds to go and Smith pushed the ball into the lane for a quick pair, but his layup was off the mark and Guers sealed the Hawks with by making one of two at the line on the other end.

Stonehill (18-7, 13-6 NE-10) is back in action on Saturday when it hosts Southern New Hampshire University, ranked tenth in the region, for a key NE-10 matchup on Senior Day at Merkert Gymnasium at 3:30 p.m. Saint Anselm (19-6, 14-5 NE-10) hosts Bentley University, ranked fifth in the region, on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

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