The Ashland University men's basketball team, ranked No. 7 in Division II, plays two games Friday and Saturday with a quick turnaround as the Eagles start a crucial GLIAC stretch.
GLIAC REPEAT: The Eagles begin the second half of their GLIAC round robin schedule with games against Davenport and Grand Valley State this week. These schools met in early December in the first conference games of the season.
COLDED IN: The weekend's schedule required an adjustment because of Davenport's inability to travel to Ashland early in the week due to extreme cold. The Panthers were finally able to depart their campus on Thursday, so the game was moved to Friday at 7 p.m. Grand Valley State and Wayne State also moved their Thursday game to Friday to allow for equity among all teams playing this weekend. Saturday's game between Ashland and GVSU was pushed back one hour to 4 p.m.
ELLENWOOD'S 200: With the Eagles' next win, Ashland University head coach John Ellenwood will earn the 200th win of his coaching career that is now in its 13th season. He spent his first three seasons at Thomas More (Ky.) College where he accrued 33 wins. At Thomas More, Ellenwood improved the team's win total from three in his first season to 19 in his third and final year at the helm. With the Eagles, Ellenwood has a 166-104 career mark. Ashland has averaged almost 21 wins in its previous four seasons and should easily eclipse that mark this year as it seeks its second NCAA Tournament bid in the last four seasons.
LAST LOOK AT LAST WEEK: The Eagles played just one GLIAC game last week, defeating Wayne State in dramatic fashion, 63-61, at Detroit's Matthaei Center. The Eagles never actually trailed in the game, but the Warriors overcame a 15-point second half deficit and a nine-point deficit with two minutes left to tie the game at 61 with 19 seconds remaining.
LATE GAME HEROICS: After each team took timeouts with 11.7 seconds left, the Eagles got redshirt-senior guard Ben Haraway isolated against one of Wayne State's bigs, Javon Henderson. Haraway couldn't shake Henderson completely, but gained enough space to hit a step-back game-winning jumper from the left wing with 1.3 seconds left. Wayne State's desperation heave the buzzer banged off the backboard to give Ashland a road win.
GLIAC LEADER: Teams are taking their best shots at the Eagles with Ashland holding the top spot in the conference standings by two games. That lead can expand to three games on Friday with a win over Davenport, which is in second place in the GLIAC. The Panthers, in the final year of their transition to full status as a Division II institution, are not eligible for the NCAA Tournament, even if they were to win the GLIAC Tournament. Davenport is receiving votes in this week's NABC Division II coaches' poll and is ranked No. 25 in the D2SIDA media poll.
HARAWAY'S HOT STREAK: Not only did Haraway hit the game-winning shot against the Warriors, but he is also been on a terrific run of late. He led the Eagles in scoring in their last two conference games. In GLIAC games this season, Haraway is averaging 15.5 points per game and is shooting 50 percent (21-42) from 3-point range. He also is averaging 3.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists in conference games as one of Ashland's floor generals.
OUR COURT, OUR GAME: Facing the Eagles has not been a treat for any opponent this season – home or away – but Ashland has been nearly unstoppable on their home floor. That's a trend that has lasted well beyond this season as Ashland has won 16 straight at Kates Gymnasium. The Eagles have not lost more than three games at home since 2013-14. Their two home defeats last season were by one point against Indianapolis in November and in overtime against then-No. 3 Ferris State last February.
RANKED NO. 7: The Eagles held steady in the No. 7 spot of the NABC Division II coaches' poll. It is the seventh straight poll they have been ranked in the top 25 and the fifth straight they have been inside the top 10. Davenport is the only other school listed on the coaches' poll, receiving votes outside the top 25. In the loaded Midwest Region, Bellarmine (No. 1), Findlay (No. 14) and Missouri-St. Louis (receiving votes) are also listed in hte poll.
SERIES VS. PANTHERS: The Eagles hold a 2-1 all-time series edge against Davenport, which is in just its second year in the GLIAC. The Panthers came to the league and Division II from the NAIA ranks, advancing to the NAIA semifinals in 2012, 2015 and 2016. The Eagles won the only game played at Kates Gymnasium between the teams, 86-65, on Dec. 9, 2017. AU also won the teams' only matchup this year, 72-60, in Grand Rapids, Mich.
SERIES VS. LAKERS: The Eagles are 17-19 all-time against Grand Valley State and have won five of the last seven meetings, including a 74-63 win in Allendale on Dec. 6. Ashland has won three straight at Kates Gymnasium against the Lakers, whose last road win in the series came Nov. 29, 2012. Ellenwood is 6-7 all-time against the Lakers.
FAITH DAY SATURDAY: The AU athletic department will hold Faith Day during and following the basketball doubleheader against Grand Valley State on Saturday, Feb. 2. Student-athletes will offer their personal testimonies during halftime of each game, and 20 minutes following the men's game, a Faith Day presentation will include worship music and additional testimonies from AU student-athletes and coaches.
SAAC BASKETS: The Ashland University Student-Athlete Advisory Committee will be raffling off prize baskets during both basketball doubleheaders in the Kates Gymnasium lobby this week, with proceeds benefiting the Make A Wish Foundation.