CLINTON – Facing off against a rival always provides a team added motivation. On Wednesday night, the Ashford University men’s basketball team showed that it was ready for the challenge presented by a quality opponent.
Led by a career-high 26 points from junior Anthony Woods, the Saints held off a late rally to down St. Ambrose 72-69 to earn their fourth consecutive win and improve to 5-1.
The Saints never trailed, leading by as many as 15 points while knocking down 56.9 percent (29 of 51) of their shots. But after a fierce comeback bid by the Bees, the Saints were able to rely on their defense to close out their longtime rival.
“I’m really happy for our guys to get a win this early in the season over a really quality team,” Ashford coach Oliver Drake said. “We set the tone early in the game by being aggressive and putting the pressure on them at both ends of the floor. At the same time, we have to do a better job of closing teams out when you have a double-figure lead late in the game. It’s good to get the win, but our guys were upset after the game. That’s a great sign for us going forward.”
Junior DeAndre Lowery (14 pts), sophomore Damon Overton (12 pts) and senior Thaddeus Perry (10 pts) also reached double digits for the Saints.
Ashford had the hot hand out of the gate, opening the contest on a 12-4 run over the first five minutes. That lead ballooned to as many as 14 points, thanks to 18 first-half points from Woods and an 18-for-29 (62.1 percent) effort from the floor, giving Ashford a 39-31 lead at the break.
“From a game-plan standpoint, we wanted to expose their defense,” Drake said. “We attacked the rim and got a lot of high-percentage shots, especially early on. That enabled us to get some good looks from the outside, and our guys responded by knocking those shots down.”