MANCHESTER, N.H. -– Sophomore Chris Santo led all scorers with a career-high 23 points to lift 15th-ranked Saint Anselm to a 75-52 victory against Southern New Hampshire on Wednesday at the SNHU Fieldhouse.
The Hawks recorded their 15th win in the last 17 contests, including 12 of 13 and five in a row, to improve to 17-3 on the season and 13-3 in Northeast-10 play. That marks the best start for Saint Anselm since it went 18-2 to kick off the 1995-96 campaign. The Hawks defeat SNHU at home for the first time since Jan. 6, 2009 and earn their first two-game, regular-season sweep of the Penmen, who dip to 12-8, 8-8 NE-10, with the loss, since the 2005-06 campaign.
Santo was tough inside, converting 9 of 13 baskets, while tallying four rebounds, three assists, a pair of blocks and a steal. He was also 5-for-8 at the line. Sophomore Roy Mabrey (Belmar, N.J.) netted 12 points and collected nine rebounds, while senior James Morse (Arundel, Maine) was also in double figures with 11 points (5-7 FG; 1-1 3-FG) to go along with six boards, three assists and two steals.
The first eight minutes of the game featured six lead changes and a pair of ties before Southern New Hampshire settled into a 19-15 lead at the 12:04 mark. The Hawks awoke at that point and seized control for good with an 11-0 run that saw five different players score points, including Morse, who canned a 3-pointer to close the run and make it 26-19 with 8:23 remaining.
SNHU had chipped it to three near the end of half when junior Dominic Borelli dropped in a layup to put the Hawks on top, 32-27, with 2:09 on the clock. Phillip Tripodakis would miss a 3 from the top of the key at the buzzer and Saint Anselm went into the locker room with a five-point lead. It improved to 14-0 when leading at the half.
The Penmen cut it to three to begin the second half and trailed, 34-31, two minutes in when a 10-2 Saint Anselm run, which featured four points from Santo, opened the lead up to 44-33 just 5:21 in. SNHU fought back to get within 10 nearly four minutes later, but a Santo layup and a three-point play from Mabrey nudged the margin to 15 at 55-40 midway through the stanza.
A pair of B.J. Cardarelli layups keyed a 6-0 spurt for SNHU, but the Hawks responded by putting the game away, scoring 10 unanswered as part of a 20-5 stretch that gave them their largest lead of the night at 75-51 with 1:20 on the clock.
Santo sparked the run with five unanswered points before freshman Mike McCahey buried a 3-pointer that lengthened the gap to 17. Santo then added a pair at the line before a McCahey three-point play followed a Nicola Canic layup and brought the score to 68-48 with 3:22 to go.
After Canic made one of two at the line, layups from Morse and junior John Nielsen made it 72-49 with a bit more than two minutes remaining. Kostas Mantalvanos dropped in a layup before Nielsen drilled a 3-pointer to close the run. Mantalvanos closed the scoring with a free throw with 14 ticks left.
Junior Dino Mallios registered eight points (3-6 FG; 2-2 FT), nine assists, four rebounds and two steals. Borelli also chipped in eight points on a perfect 4-for-4 shooting performance and pulled down three boards. Nielsen hit for seven points (3-5 FG; 1-3 3-FG), while McCahey posted six points and five rebounds.
Saint Anselm outshot SNHU, 50.9 percent (29-57) to 33.3 percent (19-57), including 33.3 percent (4-12) to 21.1 percent (4-19) from beyond the arc and 61.5 percent (16-26) to 34.6 percent (9-26) in the second half. The Hawks controlled both the paint (40-28) and the boards (43-29). The Penmen turned it over just 10 times, compared to 12 for Saint Anselm, but the Hawks were more opportunistic as they held a 15-5 advantage in points off turnovers.
C.J. Marriro paced the Penmen with 14 points.