WISCONSIN DELLS, Wis. – After 10 days off, the Ashford University women’s basketball team returned to action Tuesday afternoon and ended a four-game losing streak by beating Clarke 53-36 at the JustAgame Winter Classic.
The Saints turned in their most dominant defensive and rebounding performances of the year to improved to 5-9 on the season.
“Our kids gave a great effort out there today,” coach Kelly Kruger said. “Everyone was able to get involved, and we really relied on our defense today. It was one of our best games of the year on the defensive end on the glass because everyone was doing their part and we had kids in the right place when they needed to be. I was pleased with everyone’s hustle, and it’s good to get back in the win column.”
Buckets were tough to come by in the early going, but the Saints grabbed the lead for good with 9:18 left in the opening half on a jumper from senior Courtney Panus to make it a 9-7 game. It also marked the first basket in nearly two years for Panus, who was playing in her first contest since taking the floor against Mount Mercy in February 2012.
The Saints extended their lead to as many as 11 in the first half before taking a 24-15 lead into the break. AU set a season low for points allowed in a half, holding the Crusaders to 4-for-20 shooting while forcing seven turnovers.
Ashford continued to clamp down on the defensive end in the second half, extending the lead to as many as 20 points.
Junior Madison Wagner led the Saints with 11 points, one of 10 Saints to find the bottom of the net. Ashford held its opponent to a mere 26.3 percent (10-for-38) shooting while connecting on 40.8 percent (20 of 49) of its attempts.
AU dominated the rebounding battle, grabbing 41 boards to only 19 for Clarke. Freshman Sarah Vozel hauled down a game-high eight rebounds, while Panus added seven.
Breland Prochaska led the Crusaders (6-8) with 11 points.