By Zach James Herald Assistant Sports Editor
The Clinton Herald
---- — CLINTON — Sarah Vozel scored a double-double for the Ashford Saints in a 63-40 win over Trinity International on Wednesday in the first home game in nearly a month. It was also the first time the Saints won in Kehl Arena since Nov. 9 against Judson.
Since that time, Ashford (7-12) had lost straight four home games, but it opened the 2014 schedule with a win.
“They were excited to play at home,” Ashford coach Kelly Kruger said. “We got close to a couple other wins in there, so with the break in there, they were able to play more of a complete game at home.”
The Saints were originally scheduled to play a two-night series with Trinity International, but the Trojans had travel problems, and Tuesday’s postponement will be carried over to Monday night.
“They were ready last night to play,” Kruger said. “I think they would have played well last night, too, but we had a short workout yesterday, and I thought they made good use of what they had in front of them today.”
Ashford came out strong in the first half, starting on a 14-5 run, but cooled off. Despite cooling down from the fast start, defense was what Ashford relied on to get the first win of 2014.
Madison Wagner, who had nine points and two assists, was involved in eight of those points via a make or an assist.
In the last 6:43 of the first half, Ashford ended the half on a 10-3 run started by a Courtney Panus jumpshot assisted by Jessica Mlachnik.
The Saints outrebounded the Trojans 57-20, and only allowed Trinity International 11 rebounds in the first half.
Vozel, who had the lone double-double on Wednesday, scored 12 points and brought down 15 rebounds.
“I thought she was outstanding on the glass,” Kruger said, in his first year as Saints head coach. “I thought we allowed them to take the shots we wanted them to take, and when that happens (especially when the post is playing behind), you should have good control of the glass.”
It wasn’t just the defensive glass that the Saints were dominant of, they also created second-chance opportunities by having 16 offensive rebounds.
“We really got after that,” Kruger said. “Rebounding is an instinct of going after the ball, and that’s what Sarah did tonight.”
Ashford had two other players score in double figures — Panus with 11 points and Briaunna Guthrie with 10. Ashford ended up shooting 41 percent on the night and 8-for-14 from the free-throw line.
Now that the Saints are back in the winning column, it’s about staying there and keeping that momentum as Ashford is set to play two games in the next five days and a total of six in January.
“We believe that we can string together a good run,” Kruger said. “We want to build the right way and being a good team possession-by-possession. We have to respond with what we do leading up to Saturday’s game against IU-Northwest.
“That’s how the best teams get it done by taking care of business no matter what it is, and that’s how we’re going to handle ourselves from here on out,” Kruger said. “I think we’re getting a little bit better, and this holiday break was very important for us, but now it’s time to move forward.”
ASHFORD 63, TRINITY INTERNATIONAL 40
TRINITY INTERNATIONAL (3-10) — Basha Ramsey 2 3-4 7, Clarissa Woodard 3 5-6 12, Arielle Miree 1 0-0 3, Daja Johnson 0 0-0 0, Abigail Hemmeger 2 2-2 8, Amari Parham 0 0-0 0, Skylar Marshall 0 0-0 0, Joy Corley 1 0-0 2, Kiana Rowland 1 0-0 2, Bri’ana Rowland 0 3-7 3, Rachel Carter 0 3-4 3. Totals 10 16-23 40.
ASHFORD (7-12) — Elizabeth Nardi 3 0-2 6, Janell Anthony 2 0-0 4, Sarah Vozel 4 4-4 12, Jessica Mlachnik 2 2-2 7, Madison Wagner 4 0-0 9, Jennifer Forge 2 0-0 4, Griffin Reed 0 0-0 0, Briaunna Guthrie 3 1-2 10, Courtney Panus 5 1-3 11, Genevieve Johnson 0 0-1 0, Lorielle Little 0 0-0 0. Totals 25 8-14 63.
Halftime — Ashford 34, Trinity International 21. 3-point goals — Trinity International 4 (Hemmeger 2, Miree, Woodard), Ashford 5 (Guthrie 3, Wagner, Mlachnik). Total fouls — Trinity International 19, Ashford 18. Fouled out — Little.