The Ashland University men's basketball team celebrated Senior Day in style as the Eagles romped visiting Northwood, 81-57, on Saturday (Feb. 24) afternoon at Kates Gymnasium.
With the win, the Eagles (19-9, 12-8 GLIAC) earned the No. 4 seed in the GLIAC Tournament and the right to host Wednesday's first round game at Kates Gymnasium. Ashland will play No. 5 seed Northern Michigan at 7:30 p.m.
"Today was special because we could host another game if we won so that adds more to Senior Day," said fifth-year senior forward Wendell Davis. "We said today we were going to be ultra-aggressive. We just wanted to come out here, get a win and play together as a team.
On Saturday, Davis poured in 33 points on 13-of-18 shooting, including 5-for-7 from beyond the arc to lead the Eagles to the win in his final regular season game at Kates Gymnasium.
"Big shoutout to my teammates," said Davis. "A lot of the 3-pointers were from guys finding me and getting me open shots. (The other seniors) were like 'we need to get you the ball, the next play's for you.' That just shows how much of a family we are. It didn't matter who scored. I got hot for a minute and everyone was fine saying, 'hey, go man, do you.' Then Sell was going coast-to-coast."
Ashland led by six, 32-26, with 3:30 to play in the first half before closing the period on a 10-0 run that included four points by senior forward Marsalis Hamilton, who finished with 16 points. Defensively, the Eagles forced the Timberwolves (11-17, 7-13 GLIAC) to miss their final seven shots of the half.
"We haven't been executing very well at the end of first halves," said AU head coach John Ellenwood. "We got shots, we didn't have turnovers, we made the shots and we went into halftime with a better lead."
The Eagles also employed higher pressure on the perimeter defensively that led to causing nine turnovers in the first half.
"That's something we focused on – not letting them be comfortable behind ball screens," said Ellenwood. "We did a good job forcing their dribblers into tough situations and we were able to get some steals and some easy buckets out of it."
The Eagles quickly got their lead to 20 in the second half before Davis sealed the game midway through the half by scoring 11 of Ashland's 13 points, including three 3-pointers, during a three-plus minute stretch that pushed AU's lead to 68-41.
"As a coach, you don't get too many players like Wendell Davis," said Ellenwood. "I was a fan today while that was going on, just witnessing what he's capable of. I was in front of the scorer's table when he hit the second one and he looked right at me. I couldn't help but smile. He's a fun player to watch. I hope people here appreciate what he's done in his career. He's one of the best, if not the best, to ever put on the uniform."
Redshirt-junior guard Ben Haraway added 12 points and five assists while sophomore center Drew Noble had 10 points, seven rebounds and two blocks. As a team, the Eagles shot 62 percent (29-for-47) from the field and went 8-for17 (47 percent) from 3-point range.
Zach Allread paced the Timberwolves with 15 points on 6-for-10 shooting as the only Northwood player in double figures.
Now, the Eagles welcome the Wildcats to Kates Gymnasium in Wednesday's GLIAC Tournament quarterfinal. Ashland beat NMU, 55-54, in the teams' only other meeting in early January.
"It's great. We get to play in front of our fans, teammates, family," Hamilton said. "It will be great to get another game in front of our fans. That was our focus."
Wednesday's tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.