AU men’s basketball wins conference title vs. Pioneers

The Eagles secured the conference title behind 22 points from Wheeler


AU Athletics

The Eagle men secure the conference championship in defying fashion.

Cade Cracas, Sports & Digital Editor

The Ashland University men’s basketball team has defied the odds and won the Great Midwest Athletic Conference (GMAC) championship on the road in Alumni Hall on the campus of Walsh University.

On Saturday, March 4, 2023, the Eagles were able to secure their first GMAC title, since joining the conference in the 2021-2022 season, against the Malone Pioneers.

In the first half of play, the Eagles battled back and forth with the Pioneers. The Eagles were able to start off with an 11-5 lead off the back of freshman Simon Wheeler who scored seven early.

The Pioneers battled to keep the contest close and took their first lead with roughly 10 minutes left in the half. However, that lead would be short-lived as the Eagles pieced together important offensive possessions behind Wheeler.

The Eagles were able to take a lead into halftime, 35-33, with Wheeler scoring 17 points in the first half. He also shot 53% from the field in his first-half efforts. As a whole, the team shot 54% from the field and 30% from three-point range.

In the second half, pandemonium would break loose.

The first 10 minutes saw both teams exchange blows, with the Pioneers taking a slight edge. With under 10 minutes to go, the Eagles trailed 67-54. With a conference title on the line, the team needed to bounce back.

Down the stretch of the contest, the Eagles would outscore the Pioneers 22-3 with six minutes left in the game to secure the 82-78 win. None other than forward Maceo Williams, who struggled from the free-throw line this season, was the one to close out the contest from the charity stripe for the Eagles.

As the final buzzer sounded, the Eagles stormed the court to celebrate their conference championship. The Eagles were led by Wheeler who recorded 22 points and six assists, Williams who knocked down six shots for 14 points and sophomore Stefan Stanich who recorded a career-high 14 points.

The usual standout Eagle Brandon Haraway was crowned the GMAC MVP of the Tournament after being named the conference Player of the Year just days earlier.

The Eagles will now look to the NCAA Division II Regional Tournament selection process that occurs Sunday, March 5, at 11 p.m.

You can find the link below to watch the selection show: