Second Half Rally Falls Short as Saints Lose at Home | Schools
CLINTON, Iowa--The Ashford University men's basketball team opened the month of February at home Friday evening by welcoming the Eagles of Robert Morris University to Clinton for the first of two matchups this month.Fueled by an 11-0 second half run, the Saints erased a 13-point halftime deficit and brought the Kehl Arena crowd back to life late in the period. However, RMU grabbed back the final lead of the game with 2:12 to play, holding out for a 69-64 victory.
"I was proud of the way we responded coming out of halftime," Head Coach Oliver Drake said. "Nothing went well for us in the first half, our effort and transition defense wasn't there. But we responded well in the second half against a very talented team."
Senior forward Vesteinn Sveinsson and sophomore guard Brandon Weston each scored 19 points for AU while Calumet City, Ill.-native DeAndre Lowery Jr. added 13. For Weston, it marks a career-high scoring game as the East St. Louis, Ill.-native posted a four-of-seven shooting night from three-point range.
For the matchup, AU hit 19-of-50 (38%) of its attempts from the floor but notched an 11-of-23 (47.8%) shooting effort in the second half.
Trailing 36-23 out of the halftime break, the Saints were eager to battle back, and did so right from the opening whistle.
Sveinsson scored the first five points of AU's 11-0 run before Weston netted the final six to make it a one point game, 43-42 with 11:12 to play, in favor of the visitors. RMU rallied back out to a four-point advantage before Ashford tied the contest up at 47-47 with 9:31 to go on a Lowery jumper.
"We got into some two-man action and thought we could expose them by doing that," Drake added. "We made some really smart reads and smart plays, did a good job of facing adversity and battling back against an extremely talented team."
It would take five more minutes before AU would pull back even with Robert Morris and another minute after that before a Lowery three-pointer gave Ashford its second lead of the contest at 59-58 with 4:16 showing on the clock.
Ashford and Robert Morris would swap the lead four more times during the next two minutes but a RMU three-pointer with 2:12 to go gave the squad a lead it wouldn't surrender. Two AU turnovers and a missed three point bucket did the Saints in as the visitors won 69-64.
"I don't think we established the way we wanted to play in the first half, so we let RMU get going," Drake quipped. "When you dig yourself a big deficit against guys that can flat out make a play, it's going to be troublesome. I also personally made some mistakes down the stretch and I take full responsibility for that. I made two crucial mistakes and our guys deserve better than that. It was poor game management by me."
The Saints were outrebounded 36-27 but converted 20-of-26 (76.9%) of their free throw attempts to just an 11-of-17 (64.7%) effort by Robert Morris.
With the loss, AU falls to 16-9 overall while NAIA Division I representative, Robert Morris, improves to 12-12 this season.
AU will return to action Saturday afternoon when the RedHawks of Indiana University-Northwest visit Clinton for an Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.) clash.
"IU-Northwest is going to be ready to go, they're a team on the rise," Drake closed. "It's an important game and we need to worry about doing our stuff right. I expect our guys to come out and be ready to go."
Tipoff is set for 3 p.m.