ROMEOVILLE, Ill. – The Ashland University men's basketball team saw its season come to an end in the first round of the NCAA Tournament as the Eagles fell to Southern Indiana, 66-60, on Saturday (March 16) night at Neil Carey Arena.
The Eagles (23-7), seeded No. 5 in the Midwest Region, came up just a few baskets short against the No. 4-seeded Screaming Eagles (23-8). It was the second NCAA Tournament appearance for Ashland since 2016.
Junior center Drew Noble, who was recently tabbed to the D2CCA All-Region team, scored the first bucket of the game with a three-point play and the Eagles went up 5-2 on a long jumper by sophomore forward Derek Koch.
Southern Indiana took its first lead of the game on a 3-pointer by Nate Hansen with 16:18 left in the first half, then held the advantage for the remainder of the game.
USI was able to stretch its lead to 24-16 with 6:40 to go in the half before junior guard Rodrick Caldwell cut it down to 26-23 with three free throws with 5:27 left.
Ashland's defense kept the Southern Indiana from pulling away late in the first half as USI took a 37-30 lead into halftime.
USI led by as many as 15 with eight minutes to go in the game before the Eagles clawed back in with a 13-2 run capped by a steal by senior forward Phil Frentsos and a quick transition jumper by Caldwell.
Ashland had a chance to cut it to one possession, but Kobe Caldwell hit a jumper to stop the run. Caldwell came back at the other end and dropped a 3-pointer to make it 58-55 before the teams traded baskets and the margin was 60-57 with a minute to play.
The Eagles forced a miss on USI's next possession, but the Screaming Eagles got the offensive rebound and drew a foul. Jacob Norman hit two free throws to make it 62-57 and the Eagles got just one free throw on the other end. They were not able to get it back to a one-possession game after that.
Noble and Caldwell led the Eagles with 19 points apiece. Noble added eight rebounds to his tally. Redshirt-sophomore guard Aaron Thompson had a game-high nine rebounds while holding USI's leading scorer and first team all-region selection Alex Stein to just 10 points on 3-for-11 shooting.
Both teams shot below 40 percent and they were even in rebounding at 37.