The Ashland University men's basketball team used an 18-0 run in the first half to take a 30-11 lead on its way to a 73-62 win over Seton Hill on Wednesday (Nov. 21) evening at Kates Gymnasium.
The Eagles go into a much-deserved Thanksgiving break with a 4-0 record, while the Griffins fell to 0-4.
Ashland, which played without sophomore forward Derek Koch because of injury, took advantage of a small Seton Hill lineup by turning to junior center Drew Noble. The 6-foot-8 bruiser used his size and force to bully his way to 25 points on 11-for-14 shooting. It was his seventh career 20-point game and he set a career high for field goals made.
"My teammates got me the ball right where I needed it, they got me into a really good position," Noble said. "It was one of those days where shots were falling and I was getting the ball a lot."
The Eagles had a 12-11 lead with 12:39 to play in the first half after a back-and-forth start to the game. Ashland then turned up the defense, forcing Seton Hill to miss its next 11 shots as the Eagles stretched their lead to 19 points, 30-11, by scoring on eight of nine possessions in that stretch.
Seton Hill was able to trim the margin to 35-23 heading into halftime.
After the intermission, the Griffins cut the spread to two points with 15 minutes to play after Trevor Blondin's layup on a back-door cut.
The Eagles had it back to eight points three minutes later on two free throws by junior guard Rodrick Caldwell, but back-to-back buckets by Anthony Karabatsos made it a 53-52 game with 8:45 remaining.
Ashland then forced the Griffins into six straight misses again and a 3-pointer by senior forward Phil Frentsos and a lay-in by senior guard Ben Haraway pushed Ashland to a 61-52 lead with five minutes left. Haraway scored 10 of his 16 points in the second half.
"My shots weren't falling so I was trying to get downhill and get to the hole," Haraway said. "One of my strengths is that I'm a really good finisher. My teammates found me in spots where I could really rip and get down."
The lead never slipped under six the rest of the way as Noble seemingly found a basket every time the Griffins looked to go on a run. The junior was four points shy of a career high and also added seven boards and two steals to his totals.
"We needed him to have a big game tonight and he did," said AU head coach John Ellenwood. "Even with 25 points, I think we should have gone to him more, even in the zone (defense). Drew was consistent throughout the game. He's a workhorse."
The Eagles cleaned up on the glass to a 40-32 count with redshirt-sophomore wing Aaron Thompson peeling off 14 rebounds, including 13 on the defensive end.
"The guy is a magnet to the ball on rebounds," Ellenwood said. "He's assigned the other team's best player and held him below his season average while being in foul trouble."
Caldwell finished with 19 points, four rebounds and four assists. He was crucially 9-for-10 at the free throw line. Frentsos totaled 11 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two blocks.
The Eagles will now have eight days to rest up and get healthy before the start of GLIAC play next Thursday (Nov. 29) as they welcome Lake Superior State for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off at Kates Gymnasium.