Special to the Herald
The Clinton Herald
---- — WISCONSIN DELLS, Wis. – For the second consecutive day, defense and rebounding propelled the Ashford University women’s basketball team to a win at the 2013 JustAgame Winter Classic.
Freshman guard Sarah Vozel had a game high 12 points and 12 rebounds to record her first career double-double for the Saints in a 58-41 win over the Eagles of AIB on Wednesday afternoon.
The Saints held their opponent to 28.8% (15-for-52) shooting on the day, the second straight game AU has held the opposition under 30% shooting. In addition, Ashford held a 39-21 advantage in the rebounding battle as they improved to 6-9 on the year.
“We had a slow start but we found a groove on both ends of the floor as the game went on,” Head Coach Kelly Kruger said. “We had some good inside-outside play offensively and our defense was very good again. You can always be overly critical of your defense but we competed hard and we crashed the boards really well for the second day in a row.”
The Saints struggled from the field to open the game, falling in a 9-2 hole in the game’s opening five minutes. But the AU offense shook off their slow start to outscore the Eagles 17-4 over the next 11 minutes. The defense did their part as well, holding AIB scoreless for over seven minutes as the Saints took a 19-13 lead.
With the game tied at 20 and halftime looming, sophomore Jessica Mlachnik drove the lane and connected on a layup to give the Saints a two-point lead at the break and a momentum boost they would carry into the final 20 minutes of play.
The lead grew to as many as 19 in the second half, thanks to an offense that connected on 54.5% (12-for-22) of their field goals.
Mlachnik and junior Quinn Rear each had 11 points for the Saints, who knocked down 47.7% (21-for-44) of their shots on Wednesday.
Johnikka Nash led the Eagles with 11 points, all in the second half, but AIB dropped to 3-11 on the year.
The Saints will play their final game before the Christmas break on Saturday, when they battle the #11-ranked Lakers of Roosevelt University in Chicago. For the Saints, it is a chance to build on their excellent play the last two days and build momentum for the rest of the year.
“We can compete and play with anyone if we bring it from the opening whistle,” Kruger added. “Opportunities like this only come around so often and we need to be prepared for it. This week was good but we can’t be satisfied with where we are. We need to continue to work hard and be ready to go against a very good Roosevelt team on Saturday.”
Saturday’s game is set for a 1 p.m. tipoff.