Thursday, Jan. 23, 8 p.m.
Ashland (6-8, 3-7 GLIAC) at Findlay (11-3, 7-3 GLIAC)
Croy Gymnasium, Findlay, Ohio
Saturday, Jan. 25, 3 p.m.
Ashland (6-8, 3-7 GLIAC) at Hillsdale (10-4, 6-4 GLIAC)
Jesse Philips Arena, Hillsdale, Mich.
(Both games will be broadcast live on WNCO-AM 1340 with Matt Brubaker on the call.)
Setting the Scene
The Eagles are back on the road this week as they travel to Findlay and Hillsdale. AU is looking for its first road win of the year. Ashland is 0-5 away from Kates Gymnasium this season. Ashland is looking to rebound after a loss to Walsh, 82-78 on Thursday and then to Malone, 95-81 on Saturday.
About the Eagles
Despite getting swept by the Canton schools at home last weekend, the Eagles out-shot both of their opponents. In the two games, Ashland connected on 31 field goals in each contest and shot 62-of-108 (57.4 percent) from the floor, but they were unable to stop the opposing team's best players. Walsh and Malone combined to shoot 57-for-105 (54.7 percent) for the weekend and each team had two players score at least 20 points. Getting swept at home is a rarity for the Eagles. The last time they were swept in a weekend series against GLIAC competition came back in December of 2011, when Ashland fell to Hillsdale, 70-43 and to Wayne State, 75-66…against Walsh, the Eagles shot 31-for-57 (54.4 percent) from the field and out-rebounded the best rebounding team in the GLIAC, 29-25. The Cavaliers won thanks to 13 made triples and three players scoring in double figures. Jesse Hardin scored 23 points and made five three-pointers, Hrvoje Vucic scored 22 points and had four threes and Trey Fletcher came off the bench to score 18 points. Ashland led, 43-38 at halftime and 72-71 with 3:07 to play after a Wendell Davis jumper. The game had five ties and 10 lead changes. Over the final three minutes, AU went 1-for-4 from the free throw line and the Cavaliers finished the game on an 11-6 run…against the Pioneers, Ashland had its best shooting performance of the year, shooting 31-for-51 (60.8 percent) from the field. The Eagles trailed by 19 points with 12:50 to play but cut the lead to four with 6:25 left. Malone finished off the Eagles at the free throw, going 27-for-32 at the stripe and 22-of-25 in the second half.
Ashland ranks sixth in the GLIAC in three-point field goal percentage (37.7 percent) and eighth in field goal percentage (46.8 percent). The Eagles are seventh in the conference in assists (14.6 apg.) and they make 7.4 triples a game. Ashland is still struggling from the free throw line, making 64.1 percent on the year, ranking 15th overall. On the defensive end the Eagles are out-rebounding their opponents by 2.1 rpg., and are pulling down 34.3 rpg. Ashland scores 74.2 ppg., and gives up 74.2 ppg. That defensive figure comes in 12th in the conference.
Eagles to Watch
Senior forward Will Evans is the team's top scorer and rebounder, averaging 14.3 ppg., and 7.9 rpg. He is fourth in the GLIAC in rebounding and 21st in scoring. He ranks fifth in three-point field goal percentage, shooting 48.4 percent this year and is sixth in minutes (34.6 mpg.)…in two games last weekend, Evans averaged 38.5 mpg., 13.5 ppg., 4.5 rpg., and 4.0 apg. Evans had 10 points, six rebounds, and five assists in the loss against Malone…over his last nine games, Evans is averaging 8.0 rpg…Evans grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds against Saginaw Valley State on Dec. 16…Evans has six career double-doubles, three of them this year…had his best performance at the free throw line at Lake Superior State on Jan. 4, going 11-of-14 from the line and scored 17 points…had a career-high 28 points against Oberlin in the season opener…shooting 52.4 percent (11-of-21) from the three-point line in conference play.
Junior guard Brook Turson is Ashland's second leading scorer and rebounder this season and is coming off his best weekend of the season. Turson had his highest scoring two-game stretch of the year against Walsh and Malone, averaging 18.0 ppg., shooting 13-of-24 (54.2 percent) from the field, and grabbing 5.5 rpg. He is averaging 11.1 ppg., and 5.6 rpg., this season. The junior guard is 13th in the GLIAC in defensive rebounds (62) and ranks 21st overall in rebounding…had 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the floor against Walsh. It was his highest scoring game since his career-best 27 point performance against Lake Erie on Feb. 2 of last year…Turson was the difference in AU's upset win against Wayne State on Dec. 18 as he scored 13 points on 4-of-8 shooting, including five points in overtime while collecting eight rebounds.
The Ashland freshman class has contributed at key moments and over the last four games, Adrian Cook can make the argument he's been the brightest star. The guard has logged 28.0 mpg., during that time, scoring 11.0 ppg., on 63.3 percent shooting from the field. In those four games, he is close to a 2-1 assist-to-turnover ratio (13 assists, seven turnovers) and has pulled down 13 rebounds. His best game came against Malone, where he set career highs in points (12), field goals (6), field goal percentage (85.7 percent), and assists (6)…Cook made his first career start against Walsh last Thursday in the place of DaWuan Thomas, playing 33 minutes and scoring eight points…Cook is averaging 12.7 ppg., per 40 minutes this season.
Another freshman who has come on of late is forward Wendell Davis. Over his last four games, Davis is averaging 9.8 ppg., and 4.8 rpg., while going 17-of-24 (70.8 percent) from the field. He ranks eighth in the GLIAC in field goal percentage (57.8 percent)…last weekend, Davis went 13-of-16 from the field and scored a career-high 17 points against Walsh to go with five rebounds and three assists…in the last three games, Davis has accounted for 39 of the team's 62 bench points (62.9 percent).
Head Coach John Ellenwood
AU head coach John Ellenwood is in his fifth season at Ashland. A year ago, he guided the Eagles to a 13-12 record, 11-11 in GLIAC play, and finished the year winning eight of the last nine games. Ellenwood is a 2000 College of Wooster graduate. At Ashland, Ellenwood is 60-60. His career record as a college head coach is 93-108. Before coaching at AU, Ellenwood coached at Thomas More, where he was the head coach for three seasons.
Ellenwood vs. Findlay: 2-7
Ellenwood vs. Hillsdale: 1-8
About Findlay (11-3, 7-3 GLIAC)
The Oilers begin this weekend sharing the GLIAC South Division lead with Walsh. Findlay is a veteran group that has two seniors and a junior in its starting lineup. The Oilers have had the same starting five the entire season. They have four players scoring in double figures and eight players logging at least 14.0 mpg. Findlay continues to be the class of the division and has dominated opponents at Croy Gymnasium. The Oilers are a perfect 6-0 at home this season and since the beginning of the 2002-03 season, Findlay is 185-7 at home. Findlay's last loss at home came on Jan. 12 of last season to Tiffin, 57-55. The Oilers haven't lost more than two games at home since the 2002-03 campaign.
Findlay has been consistent and productive on both ends of the floor this year. The Oilers lead the conference in free throws made (19.2), free throw attempts (27.1) and defensive rebounds (28.9 rpg.). They come in ranked second in the league in scoring (85.4 ppg.) and are fourth in assists (15.9 apg.), field goal percentage (48.2 percent), and three-point field goal percentage (38.8 rpg.). They also take great care of the basketball, turning the ball over just 10.9 times a game. Defensively, they rank second in opponent field goal percentage (48.2 percent), opponent three-point field goal percentage (32.4 percent) and total rebounds (38.9 rpg.).
Senior forward Greg Kahlig is the team's best player and comes in leading the team in scoring. The First Team All-GLIAC performer from a year ago is scoring 21.6 ppg., this season, which ranks sixth in the conference. He has gone to the free throw line 108 times and is shooting 80.6 percent, the 19th best mark in the league…Kahlig has nine 20-point games this season and three 30-point games. His season high came against Michigan Tech on Dec. 12, when he scored 32 points on 11-of-16 shooting and went 5-of-7 from three-point distance.
In the backcourt is sophomore guard Dylan Kaufman. He is fourth in the GLIAC in steals (26), fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.3), and 14th in made three-pointers (27). Kaufman scored a career-high 29 points against Notre Dame (Ohio) on Dec. 21, going 10-for-15 from the field and connected on seven three-pointers…Kaufman is averaging 14.3 ppg., and is shooting 47.5 percent from the field at home this season.
Senior forward Jake Heagan is the team's top rebounder and third leading scorer. He scores 12.2 ppg., and averages 6.9 rpg. His rebounding figure ranks him sixth in the league and he's secured 97 rebounds. Heagan has scored in double figures in 12 of his 14 games this year and has two double-doubles. His best game came against Northwood in a road loss, 86-69. Heagan had 20 points and 11 rebounds.
Charlie Ernst is in his third year as head coach after replacing the legendary Ron Niekamp. In his first two-plus seasons, Ernst has an overall record of 57-18 and 37-14 in the GLIAC. Before being named the head coach, Ernst was a part of a coaching staff that won seven GLIAC regular season championships, five GLIAC tournament titles and was a large part of the 2008-09 national championship team that finished 36-0.
Findlay leads the all-time series against Ashland, 56-24 and has won nine of the last 11 meetings. The last time the Eagles won at Croy Gymnasium was in the 2001-02 season, 92-80. Ashland has lost 13 straight since that victory and fell on the road last season, 69-52. In that game, AU trailed by only six points at the break, but was outscored, 39-28 after the intermission. The Eagles were out-rebounded, 41-26. DaWuan Thomas had 10 points, three assists and four steals and Cole Krizancic led AU with 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Evans grabbed a team-high six rebounds. Kahlig led all scorers with 23 points. Ashland defeated Findlay at home last season, 61-60 on a layup by Thomas with two seconds remaining in regulation. The Eagles erased a five-point deficit with 3:45 to play and held the Oilers to 9-of-27 shooting in the second half. Evans finished with 14 points and nine rebounds as Ashland out-rebounded Findlay, 44-32.
About Hillsdale (10-4, 6-4 GLIAC)
The Chargers had a roller coaster start to their season, beginning with two non-conference wins before dropping their first three games in the GLIAC. Since then, they are 6-1 in the conference with their only loss in that stretch coming to Ohio Dominican last Saturday, 57-55. They are 6-1 at home this season, suffering their only loss to Michigan Tech on Dec. 14, 84-81. Hillsdale leads the GLIAC in scoring defense (64.1 ppg.) and is third in rebounding margin (3.1) and opponent field goal percentage (41.0 percent). On offense, the Chargers are third in free throw percentage (78.0 percent), fifth in made three-pointers (8.2) and assists (15.7 apg.) and 11th in scoring (71.4). Hillsdale hosts Lake Erie on Thursday.
Senior forward Tim Dezelski may be one of the best all-around players in the conference. He leads the league in scoring and rebounding, putting up 24.9 ppg., and 9.6 rpg., this year. He is ninth in the conference in field goal percentage (57.3 percent) and has scored in double figures in every game this year. From Jan. 4 through Jan. 16, he recorded four consecutive double-doubles and averaged 28.3 ppg., and 12.5 rpg. He's scored 20 or more points 10 times and 30 or more three times this season. His season high came against Michigan Tech on Dec. 14, when he put up 35 points on 13-of-17 shooting. Dezelski is fourth in the country in scoring.
Sophomore forward Kyle Cooper is the team's second leading scorer and rebounder, averaging 12.5 ppg., and 5.7 rpg. Cooper is 18th in the GLIAC in rebounding, ninth in free throw percentage (86.7 percent) and 20th in field goal percentage (50.0 percent)…has scored in double figures seven times and recorded a double-double against Quincy on Dec. 22 (22 points, 10 rebounds)…had a season-high 24 points on 11-for-17 shooting against Northern Michigan on Dec. 16.
Head coach John Tharp is in his seventh season at Hillsdale. Since the beginning of the 2011-12 season, Tharp has led the Chargers to a record of 54-16. Before coaching at Hillsdale, Tharp spent 13 seasons at Division III Lawrence University, where he compiled a record of 204-108.
Hillsdale leads the all-time series with Ashland, 26-23. Over the last two years, AU has gone 1-5 against the Chargers, but that one win was one to remember. Last year, the Eagles won, 64-56 after trailing at halftime, 27-21. Ashland outscored Hillsdale, 43-29 in the second half to notch its first-ever win against the Chargers under Ellenwood. The Eagles overcame 16 turnovers to shoot 42.9 percent (18-of-42) from the field, and were successful at the foul line, going 22-of-31 (71.0 percent). Turson recorded his first career double-double, scoring 16 points and bringing in 12 rebounds. Before that win, the Eagles had lost 10 in a row to the Chargers.
The Eagles return home to Kates Gymnasium to host the Ohio Dominican Panthers (Jan. 30, 7:30 p.m.) and the Tiffin Dragons (Feb. 2, 3 p.m.).