The Ashland University men's basketball team lost for the first time in the 2017-18 season, falling to visiting Indianapolis in a nailbiter, 62-61, at Kates Gymnasium on Tuesday (Nov. 21) in the opening game of the AU Thanksgiving Classic, presented by Hampton Inn & Suites at Kates Gymnasium.
The Eagles (3-1) trailed by five at halftime, 37-32, and the Greyhounds (3-1) built their lead to 43-32 with a quick 6-0 burst in the first minute of the second half to force an AU timeout.
Ashland then got stops on UIndy's next six possessions to go on a 10-0 run, keyed by a couple 3-pointers by junior guard Ben Haraway and senior forward Wendell Davis, that cut the deficit to just 43-42.
The Greyhounds were able to maintain their lead, stretching it to eight at one point before the Eagles tied the game with an 8-0 run, capped by a layup by senior forward Marsalis Hamilton with 6:36 to play.
AU took its first lead of the second half on back-to-back 3-pointers by Davis and Haraway, the latter of which pushing the Eagles ahead, 58-56, with 3:30 remaining. Neither team scored again for two minutes before a layup by Ajay Lawton tied the game at 58-58.
The Eagles then came up empty on their next two possessions with a turnover and missed 3-pointer as UIndy pushed its lead to 62-58 with 25 seconds left.
"We played a good team, we didn't move the ball and it showed tonight, because we didn't play as solid as a unit as we should have," said AU head coach John Ellenwood. "People are going to key on Wendell Davis and we need to move the ball. Eighteen turnovers is unacceptable and that's something that we need to remedy."
Sophomore center Drew Noble got a good look from the left wing and buried it off a kick-out by Davis to trim the deficit to 62-61 with eight seconds remaining. The Eagles interrupted the ensuing inbounds pass by the 'Hounds, but the visitors came up with the loose ball and were able to dribble out the remaining clock.
Noble and Haraway had 15 points apiece for the Eagles, while Davis tacked on 12 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Redshirt-freshman Aaron Thompson scored nine points and collected six boards, knocking down a pair of 3-pointers.
"We needed to him to hit those open shots. Aaron did a great job," said Ellenwood. "They have some quick guards. You're not going to see as many guards as quick as Lawton and (C.J.) Hardaway. Aaron did a good job. Lawton was 7-for-19 and Aaron was guarding him for most of the game. That was a good job by Aaron making him work for his points."
The Eagles won the battle on the glass, 37-29, but committed 18 turnovers as Eric Davidson and Lawton combined for all nine UIndy steals.
The Eagles forced the Greyhounds to shoot just 39.3 percent (11-for-28) in the second half and 44.8 percent (26-for-58) overall.
"We did a good job defensively, especially late in the second half," said Ellenwood. "They had to work for everything and we made adjustments in the second half defensively."
The Eagles will look to rebound on Wednesday (Nov. 22) when they conclude the AU Thanksgiving Classic at 3 p.m. against Kentucky State at Kates Gymnasium.