Eagle men upset by Wilberforce, 86-85, in nail-biter

Transfer James Manns goes for 26 in loss to Bulldogs


AU Athletics

The Eagles fall to the Wilberforce Bulldogs in a tight-knit contest at home.

Cade Cracas, Sports & Digital Editor

The Ashland University men’s basketball team lost to the Wilberforce University Bulldogs at home in their final nonconference contest of the season. The Bulldogs came into the contest at a record of 1-22 on the season and 0-18 in conference play.

The contest came down to the wire and saw over 40 free throws taken for the home-court defending Eagles.

The Eagles attempted just five three-pointers in the first half, making four of them. In comparison, the Bulldogs took 17 and made just five. The Eagles shot 50% from the field and 17-of-23 from the free throw line while the Bulldogs shot just 43% from the field and went 7-of-9 from the charity stripe.

Even with a clear shooting advantage favoring the Eagles, the two sides were tied at 43 heading into halftime. As halftime hit, the Eagles were led by freshman guard Simon Wheeler who recorded 11 points while dishing off four assists. Alongside Wheeler, forward James Manns was dominant all over the court recording 15 points while not missing a shot.

In the second half, both sides exchanged leads with neither squad able to separate themselves from one other.

Throughout the last 10 minutes, both teams had leads that were taken back. With two minutes to go in the contest, the Bulldogs led by Manns brought the lead back into the Eagles’ favor with a layup.

Unfortunately for the Eagles, that lead would be shortlived as the Bulldogs stormed back and led by a point with 30 seconds left. The Eagles could not convert to finish the contest and ultimately fell, 86-85.

Manns led the team with a stellar 26 points in his best game as an Eagle, while the only other 20+ point scorer was redshirt-freshman forward Maceo Williams who dropped in 21 points. Wheeler led the team in the assist category with eight, the rebound category with seven and the assist category with three.

Even with the Eagles drawing over 30 fouls and forcing 14 turnovers they were unable to pull off the victory.

The win gives the Bulldogs their first win since Nov. 26, 2022, and hands the Eagles their first loss since Jan. 26, just a few weeks ago.

The Eagles fall to 15-8 on the season and return back to the court on Saturday, Feb. 11, against Ohio Dominican. Tipoff against the Panthers is set for 3 P.M.