The Ashland University men's basketball team built a lead as large as 17 in the second half then held on the waning moments as the Eagles beat Gannon, 81-76, to win the Gary Miller Classic title at The Hammermill Center on Saturday (Nov. 30) night.
The Eagles (6-0), who are ranked No. 11 nationally, stayed undefeated on the season despite a valiant comeback effort by the host Golden Knights (2-3).
Senior center Drew Noble was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, averaging 24.5 points in the two games. Junior forward Derek Koch was also named to the all-tournament team as he finished with 19 points on 8-for-11 shooting on Saturday.
After trailing, 13-11, in the early minutes, the Eagles went on a 17-0 run and forced Gannon to miss six straight shots to take a 28-13 lead.
The hosts chipped away at that lead slightly before halftime, trailing, 45-34, going into the break.
Coming out of halftime, Ashland held the Golden Knights scoreless for the first three minutes while starting the half on a 6-0 run to stretch its lead to 51-34.
From there, Gannon clawed back into the game and had it down to four points, 67-63, with seven minutes to play. Senior guard Rodrick Caldwell hit a couple clutch shots, including a 3-pointer, to stop the run and push Ashland back ahead, 72-63.
The Knights would not stop, though, battling back to within two points after Chris Clancy's 3-pointer with 22 seconds left.
After a timeout, the Eagles turned the ball over, but got three blocked shots under the basket, including two Noble and another by freshman guard Brandon Haraway, before finally securing the rebound.
Noble hit a couple clutch free throws after the ensuing inbound and Gannon's final 3-point attempt came up short.
Noble was 6-for-12 from the floor and led the Eagles in scoring for the second straight night. He also corralled a team-high nine rebounds and was 9-for-12 from the line.
Caldwell finished with 16 points on 7-for-13 shooting. Freshman guard Ethan Conley went 4-for-4 from 3-point range and finished with 12 points in 22 minutes off the bench. He is 18-for-24 from 3-point distance this season.
The Eagles shot 10-for-19 (53 percent) to continue their hot shooting in the early season.
Clancy hit four 3-pointers and had 14 points for the Golden Knights while Frank Webb Jr. finished with 24 points on 10-for-17 shooting.
The Eagles will now resume their four-game road stretch as they open GLIAC play Thursday (Dec. 5) at 7:30 p.m. at Lake Superior State.