DETROIT – Redshirt-senior guard Ben Haraway hit a tough, step-back jumper with 1.3 seconds left to lift the Ashland University men's basketball team to a 63-61 win over host Wayne State on Saturday (Jan. 26) afternoon at the Matthaei Center.
The Eagles (18-1, 10-1 GLIAC) led by nine points with two minutes left before Wayne State (4-12, 3-8 GLIAC) rallied to tie the game with 11 seconds left on a layup by Latin Davis.
After two timeouts, Haraway worked into an isolation on the left wing where his defender turned him multiple times. Haraway then rose from 18 feet and buried the jumper. A desperation heave by the Warriors clanged off the backboard to send the Eagles out with the win.
"We got him, Drew (Noble) and Derek (Koch) into some screen action and it was best available option in that situation," said AU head coach John Ellenwood. "We let Ben go to work. Derek was open at the top of the key and Ben did a great job faking and playing off that. Ben made it work."
It was just the second time this season, and the first since a 91-88 win over Ferris State, that AU had a game decided by one possession.
"Wayne State is a great team," said Ellenwood. "They've lost their last five games GLIAC games with three in overtime and two more at the last second. They don't have any quit. We were just holding on for dear life. That's the road in this league. I don't think people understand how tough, top-to-bottom, this league is. They're desperate and find away to get you."
The Eagles never trailed in the game and led by as many as 15 points in the second half, though they were never able to put the Warriors away.
Ashland held Wayne State without a field goal for nearly six minutes in the first half as Haraway and freshman forward Jake McLoughlin each hit 3-pointers in that stretch as the Eagles took a 20-12 lead with seven minutes remaining in the half.
WSU trimmed it to two points, 26-24, with 2:40 left in the first half, but Ashland closed on a 9-0 run with seven points coming from Haraway and two more from junior guard Rodrick Caldwell.
The Eagles took a 35-24 lead into halftime.
After the break, AU led by as many as 15 after junior center Drew Noble hit a 3-pointer off Haraway's assist with 10 minutes remaining.
The Warriors kept fighting back even after redshirt-sophomore wing Aaron Thompson hit consecutive buckets to give the Eagles a 61-52 lead with two minutes remaining.
Ashland then went cold from the field and missed three free throws down the stretch to allow Wayne State to tie the gameas Davis and Darian Owens-White combined on the 9-0 run.
"They kept attacking," said Ellenwood. "We couldn't score and a lot of that was because of there defense. They did a great job on us in different areas and were physical with us."
That set up Haraway's heroics.
"We needed that," said Ellenwood. "I told the guys in the locker room we needed that game. Every good team gets tested like that. It doesn't get easier after this."
Haraway led the Eagles with 17 points, five assists and two steals. Noble added 16 points and nine boards, while Koch checked in with nine points, nine rebounds, three assists and three blocks.
Thompson chipped in with six points and 10 rebounds and senior forward Phil Frentsos added eight points and five boards in 18 minutes off the bench.
The Eagles will return to Kates Gymnasium on Thursday (Jan. 31) at 7:30 p.m. to take on Davenport.