MANCHESTER, N.H. - The Saint Michael's College men's basketball team opened a six-point lead more than four minutes into the second half at perennial regional power Saint Anselm College before succumbing to a large run and losing a 90-75 decision to the regionally-ranked Hawks on Tuesday in Stoutenburgh Gym. The Purple Knights are 1-7 overall and 1-5 in the Northeast-10 Conference, while Saint Anselm improved to 6-3 and 4-2. The Hawks were 10th in this week's D2SIDA East Region Media Poll, won last year's NE10 Championship, and qualified for the last five NCAA Tournaments.
Junior Levi Holmes III (East Brunswick, N.J./Rutgers Prep) registered a career-high 29 points for the third time this season, reaching 20 points for the seventh time in eight outings while building upon his NCAA East Region lead in scoring, which was 24.9 coming into the night. He shot 10-of-18 overall and 4-of-8 from three-point range, matching his region-best average in made threes, and went 5-of-5 on free throws. Classmate Derek Cheatom (Buffalo, N.Y./The Park School of Buffalo) added 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting, and sophomore Eli DiGrande (Essex Junction, Vt./Essex) had nine points on 4-of-8 shooting with two blocks off the bench.
Sophomore Thomas Jackson III (Middletown, Conn./Holderness School) hit both three-point tries while scoring eight points, and senior Colin Richey (Upton, Mass./Choate Rosemary Hall) handed out four assists versus no turnovers. Saint Michael's shot 49.2 percent overall, 9-of-18 on threes, and 8-of-8 on free throws.
Junior Tim Guers neared a triple-double with 31 points, nine assists and eight rebounds for Saint Anselm. Senior Taylor Fortin added 23 points and seven helpers, junior Cody Ball had 15 points, and senior Kyle Green pulled 10 rebounds.
Ball's lay-in 18 seconds into the contest gave Saint Anselm a quick lead, one it held onto for the better part of the opening stanza. Down 13-6 after two Guers free throws at 15:50, Saint Michael's rallied within two points on three occasions, including at 19-17 on redshirt senior Bruno Beča's (Zagreb, Croatia/Westchester Country Day School) lay-up at 10:18. The Hawks countered with the next 13 points, using three-point possessions to score the first nine points, and Guers' lay-up pushed the advantage to 32-17. However, a 13-2 run that took 2:33 to elapse ensued, keyed by Cheatom hitting two threes 24 seconds apart. After the Purple Knights fell behind again by six, and still faced a 41-35 deficit with less than a minute to go, Holmes turned in a three-point play at 54 seconds before burying the tying triple right before the buzzer.
The Saint Michael's run reached 11-0 when Cheatom put home a lay-in 15 seconds into the second half and Jackson knocked down a three at 19:17, but first-year Gustav Suhr-Jessen had four points in a go-ahead 6-0 run before Holmes put together a personal 7-0 spurt in 1:21 to put the visitors back in front at 53-47 with 15:56 left. Over the next nearly 11 minutes, Saint Anselm put together a 31-7 run, as only Ball (7), Fortin (15) and Guers (9) scored points. The Purple Knights never again trailed by fewer than 15 points, with Holmes' triple making it 80-65 at 4:15.
The Purple Knights complete a run of three straight games against regionally-ranked squad by hosting Merrimack College on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. The Warriors are eighth in this week's D2SIDA East Region Media Poll.