The Ashland University men's basketball team used a 26-6 run over a nine-minute stretch of the first half to build a 38-17 lead on its way to an 84-56 rout of visiting Purdue Northwest on Thursday (Feb. 14) night at Kates Gymnasium.
It is the 15th time in program history the Eagles have reached 20 wins in a season and the third time under head coach John Ellenwood. It is the first time since 1990-91 and 1991-92 the Eagles have had back-to-back 20-win seasons.
The Eagles (20-4, 12-4 GLIAC), ranked No. 20 in Division II, never trailed in the game as they held the Pride (7-17, 3-13 GLIAC) to just 34 percent shooting and forced 15 turnovers.
Senior forward Phil Frentsos was excellent for the Eagles, scoring a career-high 23 points to go with seven rebounds, two assists and two steals. He shot 9-for-13 from the field.
"We only have four games left in the regular season and those are my four last guaranteed games as a senior and it's that desperation mode kicking in," Frentsos said.
Frentsos, normally the first man off the bench for Ellenwood, made his third straight start, filling in for injured forward Derek Koch. Frentsos did well attacking the rim on drives and cuts, and also knocked down a pair of 3-pointers. He hit all nine of his shots inside the 3-point line.
The Pride stayed tight with the Eagles early on, trailing 12-11 at the first media timeout six minutes into the game. At that point, Ellenwood and his staff changed defensive tactics and started switching ball screens on the perimeter.
The Pride came up empty on their next seven possessions with four turnovers and three missed shots as the Eagles built a 26-11 lead.
"They were hurting us early on with the ball screen action," Ellenwood said. "Once we started switching, it forced them to make a few more isolation moves, rather than having those dump-offs to guys wide open."
A 3-pointer by junior center Drew Noble pushed Ashland ahead, 31-15, before Frentsos scored the next five points for Ashland to make it 38-17 with five minutes left in the half. AU took a 42-27 lead into the intermission.
Noble led the Eagles with 24 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two blocks. He was 8-for-14 from the floor, hit two triples and was 6-for-6 at the line.
The Eagles started the second half on a 10-0 run capped by Frentsos' slam off a feed by fifth-year senior guard Ben Haraway to give the hosts a 52-27 lead.
"We haven't been the best team starting the second half, but we made an emphasis on that coming out of the locker room to make sure we had some defensive fire and intensity," said Ellenwood.
The margin never went under 19 points the rest of the way.
Haraway scored 14 points and redshirt-sophomore guard Aaron Thompson added 12 poitns and six boards as the other two Eagles in double figures.
Ashland shot 51 percent (30-for-59) from the field and had 15 assists against 11 turnovers. AU won the battle on the glass, 42-33.
Anthony Barnard was the only PNW player in double figures with 21 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks.
The Eagles will look to sweep their home weekend on Saturday (Feb. 16) at 3 p.m. when they take on Parkside at Kates Gymnasium.