The Ashland University men's basketball team looks to bounce back from a couple losses with a road trip to Ferris State and Lake Superior State this week.
HEADING UP NORTH: The Ashland University men's basketball team heads to Ferris State and Lake Superior State this weekend for games against their cross-divisional rivals. The Eagles swept those teams on the first GLIAC weekend of the season and will be looking to sweep the season series from both this week.
ESPN3 D-II SHOWCASE: The Eagles and Bulldogs will square off as part of the NCAA Division II Showcase on ESPN3. In January, the basketball doubleheader between the schools was picked for the national spotlight. Both of Ashland's women's and men's teams are currently in the top 15, while Ferris State's men are coming off a national championship.
ELLENWOOD'S 200: With the Eagles' next win, Ashland University head coach John Ellenwood will earn the 200th win of his coaching career that is now in its 13th season. He spent his first three seasons at Thomas More (Ky.) College where he accrued 33 wins. At Thomas More, Ellenwood improved the team's win total from three in his first season to 19 in his third and final year at the helm. With the Eagles, Ellenwood has a 166-106 career mark. Ashland has averaged almost 21 wins in its previous four seasons and should easily eclipse that mark this year as it seeks its second NCAA Tournament bid in the last four seasons.
HARAWAY NEARS 1,000: Redshirt-senior guard Ben Haraway is appoaching the 1,000-point mark in his AU career. Last season, he scored his 1,000th collegiate point in a win at Purdue Northwest on Feb. 17, and now in his third and final season at Ashland, can reach the four-digit plateau with the Eagles. He is currently sitting at 989 points at Ashland. The Norwalk, Ohio product spent his first season at Malone in 2014-15, earning GLIAC Freshman of the Year honors. He scored 379 points that season. Haraway now has 1,368 points in his four collegiate seasons.
LAST LOOK AT LAST WEEK: The Eagles are coming off a couple of home defeats last week to current No. 25 Davenport, 92-72, and Grand Valley State, 60-53. Ashland was not able to shut down a potent Davenport offense that shot an AU opponent season high 60 percent from the floor. The Panthers were the first team to shoot over 50 percent against Ashland, which maintains the third-best scoring defense in the country. Against GVSU, the Eagles had a 27-13 lead at halftime, but saw their offense stall in the second half as the Lakers took the lead with 8:32 left and never relinquished it.
BIG DEFENSE: With the third-best scoring defense in the country and sitting 12th in opponent's field goal percentage (.398), the Eagles played perhaps their best defense of the season in the first half against Grand Valley. The Eagles forced the Lakers to miss their first seven shots and forced five turnovers before GVSU scored a field goal with 10:10 remaining in the first half. The Lakers finished the first half shooting just 17 percent (4-23) from the floor on their way to just 13 first-half points. Earlier this season, the Eagles beat Michigan Tech, 67-44, and set a program record for the fewest points allowed in a GLIAC game. The Huskies shot just 31 percent (16-52) in that game.
TIE AT THE TOP: With Ashland's two defeats last week and Davenport's two wins, the Eagles and Panthers are now tied atop the GLIAC standings with 10-3 records. Parkside sits a game behind both teams with Ferris State looming two games back.
IN THE TOP 25: The Eagles are currently ranked No. 15 in the NABC Division II coaches' poll. They had resided in the top 10 of the poll the last five weeks. This is the eighth straight time the Eagles have been in the top 25 and are the highest ranked team in the GLIAC. Davenport made its debut in the poll at No. 25 this week, while other teams from the Midwest Region included in the poll are Bellarmine (No. 3), Findlay (No. 9) and Missouri-St. Louis (receiving votes).
HARAWAY'S 27: Haraway a season-high 27 points in Ashland's defeat against Davenport last week, going 9-14 from the field and hitting all eight free throws. He has scored in double figures in the each of his last 18 games and is shooting 47 percent (107-226) from the field. He has been a 41 percent (33-80) shooter from 3-point range this year. Haraway leads the Eagles in minutes (707), but as committed just 24 turnovers on the season and is carrying a 2.46 assist-to-turnover ratio.
ALL THE REBOUNDS: Having one of the best defenses in the country requires the ability to attack the glass. The Eagles have that skill in abundance as they rank 11th nationally in rebounding margin, out-rebounding opponents by 8.1 per game. Redshirt-sophomore wing Aaron Thompson, standing 6-foot-4, leads the GLIAC in rebounding at nine per game, a full rebound better than anyone else in the league. He has led Ashland in rebounds 12 times this season. Only three times has Ashland been beaten on the glass this season, including in last week's defeat to Grand Valley State. Ferris State beat the Eagles on the boards, 33-29, in the teams' first meeting on Dec. 1 – a 91-88 win for Ashland.
SERIES VS. BULLDOGS: The Eagles are 9-24 all-time against the Bulldogs with Ashland's 91-88 win over Ferris State at Kates Gymnasium on Dec. 1 snapping a six-game losing streak in the series. Ferris State has eliminated Ashland from the last four GLIAC Tournaments, including an 80-79 decision in the championship game in 2017. Last season, Ferris ended Ashland's season in the semifinal, 85-66.
SERIES VS. LAKERS: Ashland is 13-15 all-time against Lake Superior State, but the Eagles have won four out of the last five matchups, including an 82-68 victory on Nov. 29 at Kates Gymnasium. Ashland lost on its last trip to Sault Ste. Marie last season. AU's last road win in the series came Feb. 28, 2017 in the first round of the GLIAC Tournament as the Eagles advanced with an 84-81 margin. Ellenwood is 7-5 all-time against the Lakers.
NOBLE LEADS THE WAY: Ashland has relied on junior center Drew Noble to be one of the focal points of the Eagles' offense. The 6-foot-8 Louisville, Ohio native is Ashland's leading scorer at 16.5 points per game – a figure that ranks ninth in the GLIAC. He is fourth in the conference in field goals made (124) and free throws made (91). He shoots 48 percent from the floor and 83 percent from the line, while having also hit seven 3-pointers this season. Noble, an All-GLIAC second team and GLIAC All-Defensive Team selection last season, is also fourth in the league in blocks (25). He was selected to the watch list for the Bevo Francis Award, which is awarded to the player with the finest overall season in small college basketball. Noble was one of just two GLIAC players named to the watch list.