No. 21 Eagles Drop GLIAC Tournament Quarterfinal to GVSU

No. 21 Eagles Drop GLIAC Tournament Quarterfinal to GVSU

The Ashland University men's basketball team lost in the GLIAC Tournament quarterfinal to visiting Grand Valley State, 72-61, on Tuesday (March 5) night at Kates Gymnasium.

The No. 21-ranked Eagles (23-6) were eliminated from the conference tournament, and now await their NCAA Tournament fate, which will be announced Sunday at 10:30 p.m. on Ashland entered the week ranked No. 5 in the Midwest Region.

The Lakers (17-12), the No. 7 seed in the GLIAC Tournament, took a 9-0 lead to start the game as the Eagles came up empty on their first five possessions. Sophomore forward Derek Koch hit a 3-pointer to stop the run before the Eagles eventually tied the game at 15 on back-to-back triples by freshman guard Dylan Beaugard and junior guard Rodrick Caldwell.

The Eagles' first five field goals came from behind the 3-point line where they finished 9-for-28 (32 percent) on the night.

GVSU's Hunter Hale followed with his own 3-pointer to regain the lead for the visitors. AU twice got it to one point on a couple buckets by junior center Drew Noble and senior guard Ben Haraway, but the Lakers went on a 10-0 run to push their advantage to 34-21. Grand Valley State took a 36-27 lead into halftime.

The Eagles narrowed the margin down to two, 45-43, on Noble's second 3-pointer of the second half with 13:07 to play. Koch then drew his second straight charging call, but the Eagles weren't able to convert the front end of a one-and-one opportunity before Jake Van Tubbergen hit a 3-pointer to stretch GVSU's lead to five. The Lakers' lead never went under five points after that.

The Eagles struggled at the free throw line, going 6-for-13 in the game at the stripe. All their attempts came in the second half.

"We had our chances, we missed free throws, we didn't get key rebounds and they hit threes off it," said AU head coach John Ellenwood. "We can't start off the game like we did. We just did not come out. They're more desperate than us."

Van Tubbergen consistently hit tough shots to lead the Lakers with 27 points on 8-for-14 shooting.

"He's a complete player, the kid's good," said AU head coach John Ellenwood. "We didn't help on him like we should have. He had too many clean looks. He's really good with his moves, he's very crisp, very sharp."

Jeremiah Ferguson added 18 points on 6-for-11 shooting.

"They're unbelievably talented," said AU head coach John Ellenwood. "They're just good. They're physical, they rebound, they can shoot it, they're big. They're a heckuva 7-seed."

Caldwell led the Eagles with 19 points on 8-for-15 shooting. Redshirt-sophomore guard Aaron Thompson recorded his 11th double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 boards. Noble was the third AU player in double figures with 11 points and six rebounds. 

The Lakers move on to the semifinals to play No. 3-seed Parkside. No. 1 seed Davenport will host the tournament this weekend (March 9-10) and will play No. 5-seed Northern Michigan. The Eagles will await the NCAA Tournament field announcement on Sunday night.

"Without a doubt (we're deserving of an NCAA bid)," said AU head coach John Ellenwood. "Twenty-three wins, six losses. We've had some great wins this year. We're the only team to win at Davenport, we have two wins over Ferris State. We beat everyone in the conference at least once. This year, we've been the best to help our conference in the NCAA Tournament."