THE TURNING POINT: In the final 2:12 of the game, Ohio Dominican outscored Ashland, 11-6, after the Eagles had taken a 72-69 lead.
STAT OF THE GAME: Junior forward Marsalis Hamilton scored a career-high 28 points on 12-of-15 shooting from the floor.
COLUMBUS – Ashland University's men's basketball team rallied from a 19-point second-half deficit in the home game against Ohio Dominican earlier in the season.
The Eagles were a couple minutes away from another 2016-17 comeback against the Panthers, but a late ODU rally resulted in an 80-78 loss on Thursday (Feb. 2) night at Alumni Hall. Ashland is 14-7 overall and 9-6 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, while Ohio Dominican is 12-9, 7-8.
The loss snaps Ashland's seven-game winning streak.
"I thought our guys did a good job. They did a good job. It could have been anyone's game the last two minutes," said Ashland head coach John Ellenwood. "We didn't get the stops when we needed to. Their shooting percentage was way too high."
Junior forward Marsalis Hamilton led all scorers with a career-high 28 points (22 in the second half) on 12-of-15 shooting from the field, and added seven rebounds and five assists.
"We needed him to step up," said Ellenwood. "He did a pretty good job for us. We wouldn't have been in the game without his efforts today."
Senior guard Adrian Cook added 16 points.
Ashland shot 51.8 percent from the field and hit 76.9 percent from the free-throw line, and had 16 assists.
For ODU, Shemar Waugh and Ronnie Williams each scored 21 points to lead the way. The Panthers shot 52.8 percent from the floor in the victory.
The first half was one where neither the Eagles nor the Panthers could pull away at first. Ashland led 12-7 in the first four minutes, then was up 20-19 before Ohio Dominican kept AU scoreless for 3:10 and scored five straight.
ODU had its biggest lead of the first half at 33-28, but the Eagles were able to cut their deficit to 37-34 at the break.
The biggest difference in the first 20 minutes was turnovers – Ohio Dominican forced eight and scored 10 points, Ashland forced two and scored two.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Williams lifted the Panthers to a 43-36 lead early in the second half, and an old-fashioned trey from Waugh made it a 46-38 game.
In the first six minutes of the second half, Ashland forced more turnovers (three) than in the game's first 20. That helped the Eagles cut their deficit to 48-43 just out of the half's first media timeout.
Ohio Dominican had a quick answer, however, scoring five in a row to force an AU timeout at 53-43 with 13:06 left in regulation. It wouldn't be a game in the GLIAC without multiple runs, and the Eagles went on a 13-3 run to tie the game at 56. Hamilton had seven points and an assist during the stretch.
The Panthers immediately came back with six points in a row – a run that was stopped by a trey from senior forward Torin Wetzel. At the final media timeout of the game, with 4:58 to go, the Eagles had clawed their way back to a two-point deficit at 65-63.
Hamilton made it a 68-67 ODU lead with his 22nd and 23rd points of the game, then Hamilton tied the game at 69 with a layup. Cook forced the Panthers' 10th turnover of the game and called timeout with 2:24 left, then at the 2:12 mark, senior guard Boo Osborne hit a triple to put Ashland on top, 72-69.
Ohio Dominican once again had a response, scoring four straight to go back ahead, 73-72. With a hand in his face and falling away, Williams hit a triple with 27.3 seconds left to extend the Panther lead to 76-72.
Wetzel nailed another 3 to give AU new life at 76-75 with 18 ticks to go, then the Panthers made two free throws. The Eagles missed a potential tying triple, then ODU hit two more from the charity stripe to clinch the victory.
UP NEXT: Saturday (Feb. 4) at 3 p.m. at Hillsdale (10-11, 6-9).