MANCHESTER, N.H. -- On an afternoon where Bentley University had its poorest shooting performance of the year, Saint Anselm College had one of its best. That added up to the Hawks topping the Falcons 80-59 in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball Saturday afternoon at the Stoutenburgh Gymnasium.
Senior forward Chris Santo (Cherry Hill, N.J.) and six-foot-six sophomore Harrison Taggart (Wallingford, Vt.), both of whom started their collegiate careers at the University of Vermont, combined for 45 points on 19-of-31 shooting for Saint Anselm. Santo finished with a 23-point, 12-rebound double-double while Taggart followed with 22, including a 6-for-9 effort from three. He came in as a 31 percent shooter from downtown and roughly tripled his scoring average.
Bentley, which saw a four-game winning streak halted, saw both junior forward Tyler McFarland (Rockport, Maine/Camden Hills HS) and senior guard Keegan Hyland (South Portland, Maine/South Portland HS) come close to their season norms with 19 and 17, respectively. However, the rest of the team managed only 23 points on 9-of-39 accuracy.
Despite the loss, Bentley (14-8, 9-7 NE-10) remained in fifth place in the Northeast-10 but saw its lead over Franklin Pierce in the battle for the final spot in the conference championship tournament shrink to a half-game with five to play. Saint Anselm remained in a tie for second at 14-6, 11-5.
The game started out on a positive note for Bentley as McFarland (14 points in the first 12 minutes) and junior guard Alex Furness (Wells, Maine/Well HS) helped the Falcons to a 25-18 lead with 7:12 left until halftime.
At that point and despite missing its first four shots of the contest, Bentley was a respectable 11 of 24 from the floor. The Falcons made only 3 of 13 the remainder of the half and managed just a .286 field goal percentage over the second 20 minutes.
All told, Bentley finished at .333 overall, made only 5 of 20 three-pointers and even struggled from the line, making only 6 of 14. Entering the contest, the Falcons were among the NE-10's best with percentages of .474 overall, .387 from three and .767 on free throws.
Meanwhile, Saint Anselm shot 62 percent overall in the first half and 57 percent overall with eight three-pointers and eight of nine free throws.
After falling behind by seven, Saint Anselm made its next seven shots and 11 of its 13 to finish the opening stanza. Taggart led the way, connecting five times from three to shoot his team to a 13-point halftime lead, 45-32. He took a total of 16 points into the break, more than double his 7.4 point-per-game average.
Taggart connected again from three 24 seconds into the second half, igniting a 10-4 burst that made it a 19-point game with 16:40 to go. Bentley answered with six straight to draw within 13, 55-42, with 15 to play but never got any closer.
McFarland earned his 19 on 8-of-17 shooting and also had five rebounds and an assist. Hyland's line included seven assists, seven rebounds and two steals in addition to scoring 17, and Furness finished with eight points, rebounds and three helpers.
In addition to the big efforts from Santo and Taggart, Saint Anselm received 17 points and eight rebounds from senior guard Roy Mabrey (Belmar, N.J.).
Bentley, which was outrebounded by nine, committed only eight turnovers and turned the Hawks' 15 giveaways in 22 points, However, that wasn't enough to overcome the home team's superior shooting.
Bentley will also be on the road Tuesday for a 7:30 pm game at Merrimack College.