Northwood (2-6/1-3 GLIAC) at Ashland (2-4/1-3 GLIAC)
Monday, Dec. 17, 5:30 p.m.
Setting The Scene
The Eagles begin a three-game homestand with this game against Northwood and that might be the tonic to reverse their fortunes. The Eagles enter this conference fray with a two-game losing streak. Ashland is 2-1 at home this season and a year ago, went 12-2 at Kates Gymnasium.
Northwood is also looking to escape the doldrums. The Timberwolves lost at the buzzer to Malone, 63-60 in their last game and have dropped six of their last seven games.
AU plays in the GLIAC South Division and NU is in the GLIAC North. This will be the lone regular-season meeting between the teams this season.
Neither team has played since Saturday, Dec. 8. AU lost that day at Saginaw Valley State, 66-61 and the Northwood lost at home to Malone.
About the Eagles
The Eagles were 15-12 a year ago and never had a losing skid longer than two games. The last time AU had a losing streak longer than two games was from Feb. 12, 2011 to Feb. 24, 2011, when the Eagles endured a four-game slide…the Eagles have had two games this year decided by five points or less and are 0-2 in those games…the Eagles continue to play exceptional defense, allowing 63.7 ppg. A year ago, AU permitted 71.6 ppg…Ashland has held two teams (Oberlin – 47, Ferris State – 49) below 50 points this season…Ashland is 19th in the nation in turnovers per game (11.8)…the Eagles are searching for punch off the bench. In the last two games, the AU reserves have been outscored, 39-18. In their first two GLIAC games, against Grand Valley State and Ferris State, the AU bench outscored the opposition, 31-27…the last time the Eagles played at Kates Gymnasium they shot a season-high 53.3 percent (24-of-45) from the field (vs. Ferris State)…the last two road games, at Wayne State and Saginaw Valley State, saw AU lose the battle of the boards twice – 35-25 at WSU and 39-31 at SVSU…AU's perimeter defense took away SVSU's long-range attack. Against the Eagles, the Cards were 2-for-11 (18.2 percent) from three-point range…AU has limited three of its last four opponents to 24 points or less in the first half.
Eagles To Watch
Senior forward Evan Yates (Cincinnati, Ohio/Walnut Hills) was a first team All-GLIAC and all-region choice a year ago and was a second team All-American (Daktronics). He was the first AU men's basketball player to receive All-America laurels in 20 years. Yates has picked up where he left off last season, averaging 18.7 ppg., and 10.3 rpg. Dating back to the start of last season, in 32 games, Yates has averaged 20.4 ppg., and 11.2 rpg. This season, Yates is third in the GLIAC in rebounding, fifth in scoring and seventh in field goal percentage (56.2). Yates has led Ashland in scoring in five of six games and has led or co-led the team in rebounding in all six games. Dating back to last season, a stretch of 33 games, Yates has led or co-led the Eagles in scoring 26 times and been the leader or co-leader on the boards 23 times. Yates is 15th in the nation in rebounds per game and 17th in double-doubles (seven).
Sophomore forward Paul Honigford (Sugarcreek, Ohio/Garaway) is 10-for-20 (50 percent) from three-point range. Honigford is averaging 7.8 ppg.
The Eagles are hoping that senior guard Ronnie Steward (Columbus, Ohio/Akron) can get untracked. Steward is averaging 8.5 ppg. A year ago he produced 13.1 ppg., with a team-high 53 three-point field goals. Honigford and junior forward Will Evans (Lexington, Ky./Christian Academy) share the team lead in triples (10). Evans is second on the team in scoring (9.3 ppg.) and rebounding (4.2 rpg.).
Head Coach John Ellenwood
AU head coach John Ellenwood is in his fourth season at Ashland. A year ago, he guided the Eagles to a 15-12 record, 10-9 in GLIAC play. Ellenwood is a 2000 College of Wooster grad. This past fall, he was inducted into the college's Hall of Fame. At Ashland, Ellenwood is 43-44. His career record as a college head coach is 73-92. Ellenwood came to AU from Thomas More, where he was the head coach for three years.
About the Timberwolves (2-6/1-3 GLIAC)
NU was 18-9 last season, 13-6 in the GLIAC. The 'Wolves won the North Division crown last season and head coach Jeff Rekeweg, now in his third season on campus, was the GLIAC coach of the year.
This year, the Timberwolves are 0-4 on the road. Senior guard Andrew VanDierenDonck is averaging a team-high 12.4 ppg. The 6-6 guard also brings down 4.1 rpg. Wes Wilcox, a 6-8, 230-pound senior forward, accounts for 12.2 ppg., and 5.4 rpg. Will Bowles, a 6-7, 205-pound sophomore forward-center, averages 10.4 ppg., and 7.6 rpg. Bowles is second in the GLIAC in field goal percentage (.613) and sixth in rebounding.
The Timberwolves also have senior Cameron Joyce in the backcourt. He was a second team all-conference choice last season. The 5-5 Joyce is averaging 5.1 apg. He's an Akron, Ohio, native and a graduate of St.Vincent-St. Mary High School.
The lead in the all-time series belongs to Ashland, by a 14-8 margin. Northwood has won the last two meetings, but the teams have split the last four games.
Last season the teams collided in Midland, Mich., and the 'Wolves won, 77-64. Northwood never trailed and was in front at halftime, 41-26. The Timberwolves outrebounded the Eagles, 42-33 and had a 40-30 edge in points in the paint. Wilcox had 20 points and 10 rebounds and VanDierennDonck had 10 points. Yates led the Eagles with 19 points and eight rebounds.
The teams last played at Kates Gymnasium during the 2010-11 season. At halftime, NU held a 38-37 lead. Over the final 20 minutes Northwood outscored the Eagles, 51-43 and left town with an 89-80 triumph. Forward Bobby Lewis had 25 points, nine rebounds and three assists for the victors. Kale Richardson paced the Eagles with 19 points and 10 rebounds and Yates added 13 points and seven rebounds. Steward went 6-for-6 at the free throw line on the way to 10 points.
Ashland welcomes Lake Superior State to town on Wednesday (Dec. 19, 5:30 p.m.).