Tough Defense Down the Stretch Pulls AU Past AIB | Schools
CLINTON, Iowa--Opening a stretch of three games in six days, the Ashford University men's basketball team did just enough to win Monday night. Visiting the AIB Activities Center, Ashford erased a seven-point halftime deficit to defeat the Eagles of AIB, 56-52.Sophomore guard DeAndre Lowery Jr. paced AU with 17 points while East Moline, Ill.-native Tyler Yeocum scored 15 points on four-of-six shooting from beyond the three-point arc. Another guard, sophomore Brandon Weston, scored 11 points.
"I think a lot of teams in this situation would have found a way to lose tonight, it's really easy to give in when it's not your night," Head Coach Oliver Drake said afterwards. "We got tough down the stretch and found a way to win. All the credit goes to our guys; they got tough when they needed to."
Following a 15-5 start by the home team, the Eagles kept a double-digit lead throughout much of the first half. However, an offensive drought by both sides during the final three minutes of the half allowed the Saints to pull back within seven, 26-19, as the halftime horn sounded.
Yeocum scored the games' lone bucket down the stretch, doubling his point total to six to lead the team at the break. The Saints made just seven shots from the field (7-of-24; 29.2%) in the first half while turning the ball over on 11 occasions.
AIB ran its lead to 12 points immediately following the half, but methodically, Ashford responded.
"We just challenged them to take pride and do the things we teach in this program better," Drake added. "They showed a ton of fight on the defensive end, especially late. We just need to embrace every moment that we get, and play with more urgency. Some nights it's going to be too late for us to come back, but I'm happy that we found a way to pull this one out."
The first of seven leads changes gave AU life with 9:55 to play in the second half but the momentum quickly swung back towards the home team and with 8:22 to go, the Eagles held a 42-39 advantage. But a Yeocum three, coupled with a Lowery layup handed Ashford a 44-42 advantage with 7:54 showing on the clock.
A back-and-forth game ensued from there but the seventh and final lead change of the half went the way of the Saints as a Weston three-pointer with 1:26 to play gave AU a 54-50 lead. Although AIB had its chances to pull even, a missed jumper with 17 seconds to go ultimately ended the team's victory bid as the road squad pulled out a 56-52 win.
"Certainly we're a young team – a freshman (Yeocum) makes four-of-six three's, Weston (sophomore) stepped up and knocked down a big shot – so there's plenty of positive things that came out of this game," Drake quipped. "I'm just glad we found a way to win, it makes the start of this tough stretch that much better."
Ashford outrebounded the Eagles 36-29 with a 10-7 advantage in offensive rebounding. Akranes Vesturland, Iceland-native Vesteinn Sveinsson led the way with nine rebounds, freshman Austin Uhrig had seven.
The Saints finished 39.1% (18-of-46) from the floor but made 50% (11-of-22) of its shots in the second half.
AU improved to 14-6 overall this season with the victory.
The Saints return to action on Thursday night, Jan. 17, when the team travels to Manitowoc, Wis. to battle the Lakers of Silver Lake College. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.