CLINTON — When Quinn Rear buried a 3-point basket just 1 minute, 14 seconds into the second half to tie the game for the eighth time, it appeared Ashford and Mount Mercy were in for a hard-fought battle to the finish.
After that, though, the Saints' side of the scoreboard seemed to be stuck on 21 for ...
"Forever," Ashford coach Kelly Kruger said, drawing out each syllable.
Even though the Saints' defense played the Mustangs tough enough to keep the score within reach, Ashford struggled much more against the Mount Mercy defense. By the time the Saints finally scored again on another 3-pointer by Rear at the 9:30 mark Mount Mercy had stretched the lead to double digits.
The Mustangs maintained pretty close to that advantage the rest of the way, beating Ashford 52-44 in non-conference college women's basketball Wednesday evening at Kehl Arena.
"We can't score; we're offensively challenged right now," said Kruger, whose team dropped to 1-4 in his first year as Ashford's coach.
Ashford has held three of its five opponents to 52 or fewer points, and no opponent has even reached 70 against the Saints this season.
"Our defense, for the most part, did a good job," Kruger said. "They average 72 a game and wouldn't have gotten 50 if we didn't have to foul."
But scoring even 50 points a game has been a challenge for Ashford's offense. The Saints have been below that threshold three times and scored 52 in the lone win (52-46 against Judson on Saturday).
"What's discouraging is we're missing those bunnies," Kruger said. "We weren't aggressive."
Mount Mercy, which trailed just twice at 13-12 when Ashford's Ieva Eida made a pair of free throws and at 18-17 on a Jennifer Forge layup late in the first half took the lead to stay at 22-21 on a free throw by Callan Timms with 17:15 remaining. The Mustangs (4-2) then tacked on 11 more points before the Saints put the ball through the net again.