Eagles Can't Hold Off Lakers, Fall, 64-56

Ronnie Steward (1)
Ronnie Steward (1)

                Over the years, Ashland University's Kates Gymnasium has hosted presidential candidates and a number of other dignitaries and performers. Most came with a security detail.

            Maybe that's what the Ashland University men's basketball team needed on Wednesday night (Dec. 19) against Lake Superior State – a crack security staff.  The Eagles had a 30-23 lead at halftime against the Lakers, but the failure to protect the basketball in the second half played a large role in the Eagles absorbing a 64-56 loss.

            The setback leaves the Eagles with a 3-5 mark, 2-4 in the GLIAC.  The Lakers are 5-4, 3-3 in the conference.  LSSU has to be happy with this two-game trip to Ohio. On Monday, the Lakers won at Lake Erie. As for the Eagles, they are 3-2 at home this season. That's as many home losses as the Eagles had all of last season. In 2011-12, Ashland was 12-2 on its home floor.

            The Eagles had nine second-half turnovers. While the points off of turnovers figure doesn't look that bad – 17-10 in favor of the Lakers – the giveaways took away too many scoring opportunities for AU.  Ashland shot 33.3 percent (8-of-24) from the floor in the second half and was 3-of-13 on three-point tries in the final 20 minutes.  For the game, AU shot 35.3 percent (18-of-51) from the field and 31 percent (9-of-29) on three-pointers.

            The Lakers did a masterful job of depriving the Eagles of senior forward Evan Yates (Cincinnati, Ohio/Walnut Hills). Yates had five points at the free throw line and those shots accounted for all of his points. Yates attempted only three field goals. Yates averages 17.4 ppg.

            The Eagles had an eight-point lead with 15:41 left in regulation. The Lakers drew even at 37-37 with 11:49 left on a jumper by Alex Williams. LSSU went ahead to stay, 47-45 on a dunk by Cameron Metz with 8:21 to go.  After that slam, Ashland turned the ball over and LSSU got a three-pointer by Williams for a 50-45 lead with 7:45 to play.   

            AU got to within two points with 5:40 left, but the Lakers responded with a jumper by Derek Kinney for a 54-50 lead. Kinney was fouled on the shot and he completed an old-fashioned three-point play with a free throw for a 55-50 advantage.

            Only one AU player reached double digits in scoring – senior guard Ronnie Steward (Columbus, Ohio/Akron), who scored a season-high 20 points.  Yates paced the Eagles on the glass with nine rebounds. Sophomore guard Brook Turson (Plymouth, Ohio/Columbus State) started his first game of the season and had seven rebounds.

            Rashaun Carroll had 18 points to lead the Lakers. Kinney had 16 points and 12 rebounds in 40 minutes. Williams had 14 points (11 in the second half). The three-point field goal proved to be a friend of the Lakers in this game. Williams and Carroll had four triples each. The Lakers made 9-of-25 three-point attempts (36 percent).

            Ashland's next game is a non-conference affair against Ohio Christian on Dec. 29 (1 p.m.).