Comeback falls short as Saint Michael's loses to regionally-ranked Saint Anselm, 95-86

Comeback falls short as Saint Michael's loses to regionally-ranked Saint Anselm, 95-86

MANCHESTER, N.H. - The Saint Michael's College men's basketball team slashed a 19-point deficit to five with a little more than a minute remaining before falling at regionally-ranked Saint Anselm College, 95-86, on Saturday in Stoutenburgh Gymnasium. The Purple Knights are 5-18 overall and 4-14 in the Northeast-10 Conference, while the Hawks moved to 15-7 and 11-7. Saint Anselm, which has now won nine of its last 10 games, is ranked 10th in this week's D2SIDA East Region Media Poll.

First-year reserve Thomas Jackson III (Middletown, Conn./Holderness School) scored a career-high 22 points - including 17 in the second half - on 9-of-13 shooting for Saint Michael's, including going 4-of-6 from three-point range, in 24 minutes, helping his squad shoot 13-of-26 from deep. Senior Matt Bonds (Accokeek, Md./North Point) registered his 17th double-double behind his 18th 20-point outing, finishing with 21 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and two blocks. Sophomore Levi Holmes III (East Brunswick, N.J./Rutgers Prep) shot 4-of-7 from beyond the arc for 16 points, and first-year Stan Foster (Rochester, N.Y./Avon Old Farms School) was 3-for-4 from three to finish with 10 points.

Sophomore Derek Cheatom (Buffalo, N.Y./The Park School of Buffalo) nearly gave the Purple Knights five double-digit scorers, ending up with nine to go along with two steals, and senior Zaire Williams (Paterson, N.J./Newark Academy) totaled five assists and two steals. Junior Colin Richey (Upton, Mass./Choate Rosemary Hall) dished off three helpers. Saint Michael's saw the hosts outscore it 21-5 at the charity stripe.

Jackson netted the most points by a Purple Knight first-year since Mike Holton Jr. '15 scored 24 points on Feb. 26, 2011. He also matched the highest point total off the Saint Michael's bench since Ryan Rodrigues '10 tallied 23 on Dec. 17, 2007. Holmes increased his season three-pointer total to 60, becoming the eighth Saint Michael's player ever to reach that figure, and is now 19th in school history with 111 career triples. Williams pushed past former teammate Dom Ditlefsen '15 (216) to nab 23rd place with 217 assists.

Bonds took over 13th in program history in scoring, with 1,466 career points, passing Brian Monahan '08 (1,451) and Steve Bourke '83 (1,452) during the contest. He also broke a tie with Shawn Earl '94 to move alone into 25th in blocks (41). With 507 points this season, Bonds has the 20th-highest total in Saint Michael's annals while becoming just the 17th Purple Knight ever with 500, including only the sixth in the last 28 seasons.

Senior Harrison Taggart led Saint Anselm with 29 points and seven rebounds, as each of the starting five netted at least 11 points. Classmate Chris Braley had 19 points and eight boards, while junior Taylor Fortin totaled 14 points and eight assists.

Bonds scored the opening basket after 19 seconds before Saint Anselm netted the next 14 points, with Braley scoring the first nine. Still down 26-16, the visitors received three-pointers 24 seconds apart from Holmes and Cheatom to create a 26-22 deficit by 9:04 of the opening half, and Bonds later keyed a tying 8-0 run. After converting a three-point play, the forward blocked a shot, grabbed the board and scored at the other end. At 3:06, he dished off on Foster's tying three. The Hawks scored the next five points, but Cheatom's late three left Saint Michael's down just 41-39 at halftime.

Saint Michael's used 57.6 percent second-half shooting to chip away at a late deficit, with Bonds (10), Holmes (10) and Jackson (17) combining for 37 of its 47 points. Bonds fed Holmes for a tying lay-up 16 seconds into the period, but sophomore Tim Guers had four points in a 12-2 run. Foster knocked down a three at 14:27 before Jackson's jumper 30 seconds later cut the hole to 58-53 prior to the Hawks using an 11-0 run to claim an 80-61 advantage with 7:57 to go.

Bonds, Holmes and Jackson combined to score all but one of the Purple Knights' points during an ensuing 25-11 run. With his team still down 87-72, Jackson notched 12 points in a matter of 3:28, assisting Bonds for the other basket during that time. Jackson's lay-in made it 91-86 with 1:05 left, but sophomore Cody Ball scored seven seconds later, and an ensuing Saint Michael's turnover led to Guers hitting two clinching free throws at 37 seconds.

The Purple Knights return home on Wednesday to take on Bentley University at 7:30 p.m.