Salem, Va. – The No. 13 St. Mary's College of Maryland men's basketball team claimed the championship crown Wednesday afternoon at the Morris Cregger New Year's Invitational hosted by Roanoke College. Senior guard Devin Spencer (Baltimore, Md./Towson Catholic) paced St. Mary's, who moved up three spots in this week's D3hoops.com Top 25, to the 82-72 victory over host Roanoke with a season-high 20 points.
Spencer shot 6-of-12 from the floor, including connecting on a season-high five three-pointers, while adding five assists, a career-best three steals and a block. Sophomore guard Nick LaGuerre (Baltimore, Md./Lansdowne) was not far behind as LaGuerre finished with 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting with five assists, two steals and a block. LaGuerre was selected as the tournament MVP while Spencer joined him on the All-Tournament team.
The Seahawks' (12-1) 10-point win today is their smallest margin of victory since a 73-64 non-conference win over Fairleigh Dickinson University-College at Florham on December 22. In the previous three contests, St. Mary's was averaging a +24.6 scoring margin.
Junior guard Donn Hill (Aberdeen, Md./Bel Air) and senior forward Jeff Haus (Pittsburgh, Pa./North Allegheny) also scored in double digits for the Seahawks. Hill contributed 14 points, three rebounds, two assists, two steals and season-best two blocks while Haus chipped in 11 points, eight boards, and career-high three steals.
The first half was back-and-forth as the Seahawks would make a run to lead by 10 or more points before Roanoke (7-5) would respond with a run of its own to cut the lead to four or less. St. Mary's finally gained control of the game at the 7:13-minute mark when a pair of Haus free throws sparked an 11-4 for a 35-24 advantage at 4:27 as LaGuerre finished off a dunk to cap the run.
The Seahawks headed into the locker room with a 45-35 advantage as Spencer nailed a three-point shot with 25 seconds remaining in the half. Roanoke's own three-point attempt was off the mark as time expired. LaGuerre paced all players at intermission with 16 points while sophomore forward Daniel Eacho (Richmond, Va.) led the Maroons with 13.
St. Mary's made the first six field goals of the second stanza to boast a 59-38 lead at 16:45 as Spencer launched a pair of long-range bombs during the 14-3 run. The Seahawks' fast start to the final 20 minutes was enough to keep Roanoke at bay and post the 10-point win.
Eacho finished the afternoon with a game-high 22 points to pace Roanoke while sophomore forward Andrew Daniels (Fairfax, Va.) nearly had a double-double with 19 points and nine caroms.
The Seahawks will be back in action on Saturday, January 5 as St. Mary's returns to Capital Athletic Conference play at Frostburg State University. Tipoff slated for 3:00 pm.
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