Ayon Beats Buzzer, Lifts Saints to Victory on Senior Day | Schools
CLINTON, Iowa--Senior day is always a special one for a college athlete. On Saturday, Ashford seniors Gaby Ayon and Deana Bledsoe walked away from the floor in Kehl Arena with a memory they will never forget.As the lone seniors on the squad, Ayon and Bledsoe were instrumental in the Saints' 57-55 win over Robert Morris University, as each finished the game with a double-double. Glendale, Ariz.-native Bledsoe had 12 points and 11 rebounds, while Rio Rico, Ariz.-native Ayon had 14 points and 11 boards, including the game's deciding bucket with 0.3 left on the clock.
The win was especially sweet for the Saints, who had lost their two previous meetings with the Eagles this year.
"I'm extremely proud of our seniors," Head Coach Amy Eagan said. "To have a double-double on senior day for both of them is special. Both were great but everyone chipped in and we need to have that every day."
"There aren't any words to explain it," A jubilant Ayon added. "It was a blast and of course since it was senior day, we had to make it fun and we got this win as a team. For both of us to have double-doubles on senior day, those are something we take pride in and today we knew we needed to perform at a high level. So to be able to do that was special."
With the game knotted at 10, the Saints smothered the Eagles with a full-court press en route to a 14-0 run over a five minute period in the first half to take a 24-10 lead with 10:23 to play before halftime.
But the Eagles would storm back before the half, trimming the Ashford advantage to 31-27 at the intermission.
RMU would continue to frustrate the Saints out of the half, eventually taking the lead with 11:42 to go in the game after a three from Celeste Jones to make it a 43-40 game.
With less than four minutes to play and facing 55-47 deficit, things looked bleak for the Saints. But Eagan used a timeout to change some strategy, and the players responded to swing momentum back in their favor.
Ashford would hold the Eagles scoreless after the timeout, and with 1:21 to play, Madison Wagner connected on a triple from the corner to even the game up at 55.
That set the stage for Ayon's heroics. With two seconds to play and the Saints with the ball out of bounds under their own basket, Ayon was able to get free for the inbound feed and connected on a layup in tight for the game's deciding bucket.
"I really don't know how I got it to fall," Ayon chuckled. "I wasn't the first choice on the inbound pass but I had to get free and I just got it and let it go and it went in. It was a thrill when it happened."
Eagan was just as thrilled with her team's effort down the stretch, which didn't cave when the momentum was going against them.
"It's the first time since I've been here that we've been down in the last five minutes and won," She added. "I'm very proud of our girls and their drive and desire late in the game. We knew we wanted to take the last shot and I thought Gaby got a good look off the inbounds pass. To see it go in was a big relief."
Ashford finished the game shooting 34.8% (23-for-66) from the floor, out-rebounding the Eagles, 43-39, to improve to 12-15 on the year.
With the loss, the Eagles drop to 17-10 on the season.
The Saints will close the home portion of their schedule on Wednesday, Feb. 13, when they welcome Cardinal Stritch to Clinton.
Tip-off is set for 7:00 p.m.