THE TURNING POINT: Ashland trailed 46-40 in the second half before Saginaw Valley State ran off 10 straight points to pull away.
STAT OF THE GAME: Eagle senior guard Adrian Cook scored 20 points on Thursday for his second game of 20 or more points in the last three outings.
Playing host to a No. 1-ranked team for the first time since 2009, Ashland University's men's basketball team was game, but lost to top-ranked Saginaw Valley State, 75-68, on Thursday (Dec. 8) night.
The Eagles are 6-2 overall and 2-1 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, while the Cardinals are 9-0, 3-0.
"They make it frustrating for you, and we knew that coming into the game," said Ashland head coach John Ellenwood. "Our guys did a great job not quitting, and kept it close, kept it interesting. We got beat up on the boards in the second half. We just didn't get the rebounds."
The Eagles shot 53.3 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range in the second half, but ended at 43.3 percent from the floor and 35.7 percent from downtown for the game. The Cardinals had a 42-35 rebounding advantage.
"They're long," Ellenwood said. "You look at their starting lineup, and they've got 6-8, 6-5, 6-7, and those guys are long. It bothered us."
Ashland, meanwhile, held SVSU to 43.1 percent from the floor and 29.4 percent from the arc.
Saginaw Valley State scored the game's first nine points, then Ashland countered with seven in a row of its own. The Eagles trailed 15-13 before the Cardinals went on a 16-6 run to take a 12-point lead late in the first half.
Ashland pushed back once again, scoring the half's final six points to take a 31-25 deficit into the break.
It was a 46-40 SVSU advantage with 12:50 left in the game, then the Cardinals scored 10 straight points in less than 90 seconds to pull away once again.
"They're a senior-loaded team. This is the year they've been working for," Ellenwood said of SVSU. "We gave them our best, and our best wasn't good enough. We're going to have to find a way to get better."
Ashland is 0-9 all-time against top-ranked teams.
Prior to the game, former Ashland head coach Roger Lyons, the winningest head coach in program history, was honored. Lyons won 246 games over 16 seasons, and coached in 439 games. On Thursday, Ellenwood coached in his 200th career game at AU, joining Lyons as the only two Eagle men's head coaches to do so.
UP NEXT: Saturday (Dec. 10) at 3 p.m. at home against Wayne State (6-1, 3-0).