Ashland University's men's basketball team maintained its lead in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's South Division after a hard-fought 72-69 win Saturday (Feb. 7) afternoon at Malone.
The Eagles now are 16-7 overall and 10-7 in the GLIAC, one game ahead of second-place Findlay. Ashland's 16 victories are the program's most in a season since 2006-07 (16), and its six road/neutral-site wins in 2014-15 are its highest single-season mark since 2005-06 (10).
The Pioneers now are 9-14, 7-10.
Three Eagles scored in a double figures, paced by sophomore forward Wendell Davis and sophomore guard Adrian Cook with 13 points each. Sophomore forward Jett Speelman scored 10 points, all in the first half.
Freshman forward Marsalis Hamilton added nine points, five rebounds and three steals in the victory.
Ashland hit 24-of-29 free throws on Saturday, including 7-of-8 in the final four minutes to seal the victory.
The Eagles led 19-17 with 11:35 left until halftime, then went on a 17-6 run to take a 36-23 lead with 6:15 to go before the break. The Pioneers made it a 40-37 deficit at the 1:14 mark, but Ashland took a 44-37 lead into the locker room.
Cook's jump shot gave AU a 49-45 lead with 14:02 to go in the game, then neither team scored for the next three minutes until senior forward Paul Honigford's 3-pointer.
Ashland upped its advantage to 61-47 just inside of the 8-minute mark, and the Eagles had a 63-54 lead with 4:39 to play before the Pioneers began to come back. Malone trailed by just two points at 70-68 in the final 28 seconds, but AU senior guard Brook Turson's two free throws with 11 ticks to go effectively ended the game.
Ashland will play the second game of its three-game road swing on Thursday (Feb. 12) at 7:30 p.m. in what turns out to be a game for first place at the Oilers.
NOTES: The win was Ashland's first at Malone in three tries since the Pioneers joined the GLIAC…Davis has scored at least 10 points in 21 of 23 points in 2014-15, and in 30 of his last 34 games overall…Ashland has turned the ball over 12 times or less in seven of the last eight games.