The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

March 1, 2014

Saints move into title game

By Jon Gremmels Herald Sports Editor
The Clinton Herald

---- — CLINTON — Ashford has played better games, and so has its leading scorer, Anthony Woods. But survival is what counts at this time of year, and Woods and his teammates responded when they needed to Friday night.

Woods buried a crucial 3-point basket after Fisher College crept within three points late, and the basket helped the Saints hold on for an 80-74 win in the semifinals of the Association of Independent Institutions men’s basketball tournament at Kehl Arena.

“It’s a great feeling,” Woods said of reaching tonight’s 8 o’clock final against Northern New Mexico, which beat Rochester 71-61 in Friday’s first men’s semifinal. “It’s what we’ve talked about since preseason. We’re one step closer now.”

Woods, who finished with 19 points, scored seven of Ashford’s first nine points in the second half as it widened a 39-30 halftime lead to 48-33 with 17 minutes, 17 seconds remaining. Fisher refused to bow out without a battle, though.

A three-point play by Tyler Shular (18 points) brought the Falcons (13-18) within 72-67, and when Shular made 2 of 3 free throws with 2:20 left, Fisher was within 72-69.

“We were a little concerned, but we’ve been working on late-game situations all year,” Woods said.

Woods had the answer this time. He demonstrated why he was named the conference Player of the Year on Thursday by draining a 3-pointer from the right corner, and Ashford had a little breathing room.

“I got the opportunity, and I capitalized,” said Woods, a 6-foot-4 junior from Normal, Ill. “It definitely put a little ease on our minds. It gave us a little cushion.”

The basket started an 8-5 closing run, and Fisher never got closer than four after that.

“When they threatened us, I liked the run we made and the way we responded,” Drake said.

He wasn’t quite so thrilled with the rest of the game.

“After two weeks off, I thought we were OK,” he said. “We were not as sharp as we have been.

“I think we were the superior team. We gave them a million opportunities, but we never lost the lead.”

DeAndre Lowery and Thaddeus Perry were the keys to Ashford’s early advantage. Lowery scored 12 of his game-high 22 points in the first half, and Perry had nine of his 16. Woods was limited to five.

Kyle Holmes matched Shular to lead Fisher with 18 points, and O.J. Moore added 13.

Drake expects another tough game tonight against Northern New Mexico (15-15).

“They’re big, talented, physical and battle-tested,” he said. “I know they’ll be ready, (and) I’m sure our guys will be ready.

Northern New Mexico 71,

Rochester 61

Eric Garcia made 10 of 11 shots from the field in the first men’s semifinal Friday, leading third-seeded Northern New Mexico past No. 2 seed Rochester 71-61 and into tonight’s 8 o’clock title game.

Northern New Mexico shot 55.1 percent from the field as a team and made 12 of 14 free throws.

The Eagles (15-15) went ahead to stay at 47-45 with 13:02 left on two free throws by Rodney Coles, who was fouled after coming up with a steal.

The two teams went back and forth for much of the first half. There were four ties and 14 lead changes before Rochester’s Jeroen De Baat dunked for a 24-23 lead with 8:11 left that put the Warriors ahead for the rest of the half. Their lead reached seven twice, and they took a 37-34 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Rochester (22-7) maintained the advantage until Garcia tied it at 43 with 14:36 left in the game. A jumper by Stavros Schizas put the Warriors back on top 16 seconds later, but a layup by Northern New Mexico’s Daniel Chatchou with 13:20 created the sixth tie of the game and started a 6-0 run that put the Eagles in front to stay.

ASHFORD 80, FISHER 74

FISHER (13-18) — Chris Green 1-3 0-0 3, Kyle Murphy 2-2 0-0 4, Ernest McNeil 3-6 0-0 6, Tyler Shular 6-8 5-6 18, O.J. Moore 4-15 3-3 13, Orlando Zayas 1-4 0-2 2, Ira Haywood 3-6 0-1 6, Darell Grady 1-2 2-2 4, Kyle Holmes 7-9 0-2 18, Chris Sadafsaz 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-55 10-16 74.

ASHFORD (23-8) — Thaddeus Perry 7-9 2-4 16, DeAndre Lowery 9-17 4-6 22, Josh Little 0-3 0-0 0, Damon Overton 3-7 2-2 10, Anthony Woods 6-17 4-5 19, Jordan Flowers 0-0 0-0 0, Tevin Harris 5-9 2-6 13, Tim Huber 0-0 0-0 0, Nick Wood 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-62 14-23 80.

Halftime — Ashford 39-30. 3-point goals — Fisher 8-12 (Holmes 4-4, Moore 2-4, Shuler 1-2, Green 1-1, Haywood 0-1); Ashford 6-22 (Woods 3-10, Overton 2-4, Harris 1-5, Lowery 0-3). Total fouls — Fisher 20, Ashford 15. Fouled out — None. Rebounds — Fisher 30 (McNeil 8); Ashford 37 (Woods 11, Perry 9, Little 8). Assists — Fisher 8 (Murphy 3); Ashford 11 (Lowery 4). Blocked shots — Fisher 1 (McNeil); Ashford 1 (Woods). Steals — Fisher 3 (McNeil, Shular, Haywood); Ashford 6 (Lowery 2). Turnovers — Fisher 9, Ashford 4.

NORTHERN NEW MEXICO 71, ROCHESTER 61

NORTHERN NEW MEXICO (15-15) — AJ Peralta 2-4 4-5 8, Rodney Coles 3-7 2-2 9, Patrick Bendegue 2-4 1-1 5, Christian Barraza 1-5 0-0 3, Matthew Brito 4-11 5-6 16, Daniel Chatchou 1-3 0-0 2, Eric Garcia 10-11 0-0 20. Totals 27-49 12-14 71.

ROCHESTER (22-7) — Zef Deda 4-9 2-2 11, Stavors Schizas 5-10 0-0 12, Jeroen De Baat 3-4 1-2 7, AJ Burton 6-14 0-0 17, Paris Pereira 1-9 0-0 3, Matt Gold 0-1 0-0 0, John Irons 3-7 0-0 8, Kourea Hayes 0-0 0-0 0, Giannis Stavrianidis 0-0 0-0 0, Austin Karbowski 0-0 0-0 0, Evan Walker 1-4 1-2 3, Viktoras Merkevicius 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-58 4-6 61.

Halftime — Rochester 37-34. 3-point goals — N. New Mexico 5-17 (Brito 3-8, Coles 1-4, Barraza 1-5); Rochester 11-28 (Burton 5-12, Schizas 2-4, Irons 2-4, Deda 1-4, Pereira 1-4). Total fouls — N. New Mexico 13, Rochester 16. Fouled out — Schizas. Rebounds — N. New Mexico 38 (Peralta 7, Chatchou 7); Rochester 22 (De Baat 4). Assists — N. New Mexico 8 (Peralta 2, Coles 2); Rochester 14 (Deda 5). Blocked shots — N. New Mexico 3 (Chatchou 2); Rochester 2 (De Baat 2). Steals — N. New Mexico 6 (Peralta 2, Coles 2, Brito 2); Rochester 10 (Pereira 4). Turnovers — N. New Mexico 19, Rochester 11.