The Ashland University men's basketball team dropped a tough Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference game at Lake Superior State on Thursday (Nov. 30) night, 82-73, in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. It was the GLIAC opener for both teams.
The Eagles (5-2, 0-1 GLIAC) overcame a 21-point deficit to tie the game in the second half, but they were never able to grab the lead in a game between two teams receiving votes in the national coaches' poll.
Ashland had an early 9-6 lead, but the Lakers (6-1, 1-0 GLIAC) went on a 24-2 run through a large portion of the first half to build a 30-11 lead. The advantage eventually grew to 37-16 with six minutes left before halftime.
The Eagles managed to trim the deficit to 44-33 going into the break after a jumper by redshirt-junior guard Ben Haraway just before halftime.
Ashland forced the Lakers into three straight misses to start the second half and the Eagles scored on their first five trips with senior forward Wendell Davis capping the 13-2 run with a traditional three-point play to tie the game at 46-46 with 17:15 to play.
LSSU led 53-47 with 15:30 to play before Davis knocked down a 3-pointer to cut the margin back to three points on the next trip. The Lakers then were able to create some separation with a 10-point lead with 9:16 remaining on a couple free throws by Carson Manger.
It was still a nine-point game when the Eagles went on another run that included 3-pointers by junior Phil Frentsos and redshirt-freshman guard Aaron Thompson to cut the lead to 71-68. Two free throws by senior forward Marsalis Hamilton capped the run.
A 3-pointer by Tim Cairnduff doubled the lead for the Lakers before sophomore center Drew Noble hit a tough hook shot in the lane to make it 74-70 with two minutes left.
The Lakers then kept the Eagles off the board until their final possession of the game as they stretched the lead back into double figures down the stretch.
The Eagles knocked down 13 3-pointers in the game, including four by Davis and two each from Noble, Haraway and Thompson.
The Lakers committed just six turnovers and turned 12 AU miscues into 19 points. LSSU also had a 45-11 advantage in bench scoring.
Davis led Ashland with 21 points to go with seven boards and four assists while Haraway chipped in 12 points and four assists. Thompson scored a season-best 11 points and matched Davis' seven rebounds. Hamilton scored 10 points and dished out four assists.
Guard Akaemji Williams led Lake Superior State with 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting. Manger added 14 on the bench as no other LSSU starter reached double figures.
The Eagles will now look to bounce back on Saturday against No. 5 Ferris State in Big Rapids, Mich. Tip-off is set for 5 p.m. at Jim Wink Arena.