Special to the Herald
WISCONSIN DELLS, Wis. —
Two founding members of the Midwest Collegiate Conference hooked up on Tuesday night for the first time as non-conference opponents, and the Ashford men’s basketball team beat Viterbo 55-52 in the JustAGame Winter Classic.
The win put the Saints in the tonight’s championship game against Lawrence University at 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday's victory was Ashford's sixth consecutive win over Viterbo.
"Defensively, I thought we were pretty good tonight and really held them down," Saints coach Oliver Drake said. "I'm proud of the effort our youthful group showed to guard such a junior-dominant team, and I'm proud of our guys for finding a way to win."
The Saints (10-4) led the rest of the way after sophomore guard DeAndre Lowery Jr. hit a jumper to make it 9-7 with 11 minutes, 34 seconds left in the first half. Even though the Saints built their lead to as much as 13 on a Brandon Weston 3-pointer midway through the second half, it still got interesting at the end.
Weston’s 3-point basket from the corner turned a one-point lead into a 54-50 edge with 1:01 remaining. Viterbo closed within 54-52 on a layup by Izac Sheforgen with 30 seconds left. The V-Hawks got the ball back after Joshua Little missed a free throw, but Lowery stole it back, was fouled and hit 1 of 2 free-throw attempts with :17 left to put Ashford up 55-52. Viterbo then had two chances to tie, but Matt Turba misfired on 3-pointers with 11 seconds left and at the buzzer.
Lowery paced AU with 17 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the floor, while Weston and Joe Lightfoot III each added nine. Sheforgen scored 16 points for Viterbo (8-7).