CLINTON — The Ashford Saints are trying to ride the wave of a winning streak, as all teams strive to do this time of the year. They found themselves at high tide Wednesday, defeating William Penn at home 85-74.
It wasn’t smooth sailing for the Saints, however, as they saw William Penn’s Kelly Madison score 33 points, 21 in the first half.
Ashford coach Oliver Drake knew that William Penn was going to be a tough challenge, but Ashford did what it needed to do to grab that 20th win.
“That’s a team who is really talented,” Drake, in his fourth season, said. “The two things I was most proud of is we defended the 3-point line really well; we knew that they could shoot the ball pretty much from anywhere. We also had to rebound really well, and they’re one of the best in the country at doing that.”
Even though the Saints did those things well, Drake wasn’t satisfied on how they played off Madison’s game.
“We didn’t do a good job of limiting his looks early,” Drake said. “When you give a good shooter open shots like that, he’ll go crazy and the basket gets a lot bigger.”
Ashford held the Statesmen to 29 percent shooting from beyond the 3-point arc, just below their season average of 34 percent.
The two teams got the same amount of rebounds (37), which was to Ashford’s advantage considering William Penn’s rebounds-a-game average is 46.
Even though Madison finished with 33 points, Ashford’s scoring was more balanced. Five Saints had double figures, led by Thaddeus Perry with 19 points on 7-for-9 shooting, nine rebounds and eight assists.
“He stepped up when we needed him most tonight,” Drake said. “He is very capable of playing like that every night, and we were very appreciative of what he did.”
Other Saints who found double-digit points included a pair of 16-point performances from Anthony Woods and Tevin Harris off the bench, 15 points by DeAndre Lowery and Josh Little put up 10 points and 10 rebounds in the win.
“Having five guys who made good plays makes us hard to guard,” Drake said. “We exposed them on getting some mismatches on some inside-out game, and overall, our guys deserve all the credit for this one.”
Now that it’s February, Drake believes the Saints need to keep riding the five-game winning streak and turn it into something bigger.
“We’ve been challenging our guys to improve on a daily basis, and we need to be jelling the most when it means the most, and we’ve done that in the last couple games. We feel we’re getting there, but there’s still work to be done in practice and in games.”
ASHFORD 85, WILLIAM PENN 74
WILLIAM PENN (14-9) — Marc Wilson 2 4-6 8, Blake Walker 5 4-5 14, Alec Schwab 2 0-0 5, Kelly Madison 12 1-3 33, Erik McGee 3 0-0 6, Logan Alexander 0 0-0 0, Mike Aldeman 0 0-0 0, Tyler Stahle 2 0-0 5, Roberts Baltruns 1 0-0 3, Jesse Ult 0 0-0 0. Totals 27 9-14 74.
ASHFORD (20-7) — Thaddeus Perry 7 4-7 19, DeAndre Lowery 3 6-6 15, Josh Little 3 4-6 10, Damon Overton 2 0-0 4, Anthony Woods 3 8-10 16, Tevin Harris 6 0-0 12, Tim Huber 2 1-2 5, Nick Wood 0 0-0 0. Totals 26 23-31 85.
Halftime -- Ashford 41, William Penn 37. 3-point goals — William Penn 11 (Madison 8, Schwab, Baltruns, Stahle); Ashford 10 (Harris 4, Lowery 3, Woods 2, Perry). Total fouls — William Penn 20, 16. Fouled out — Wilson, Schwab.