With its season on the line, the SVSU men’s basketball team fell to Ashland before defeating Tiffin in overtime over the weekend to clinch the final spot in the GLIAC conference tournament. The Cards finished the regular season 12-16 overall and 9-11 in GLIAC play.
Against Ashland, the game started out close with the Eagles and Cards tied 8-8 with 13 minutes left in the first half. Ashland then caught fire and went on a 10-0 run before extending its lead to 17 at the half.
Sophomore forward Fred John Jr. posted 14 points and six rebounds to pace the Cardinal offense, while sophomore guard Malik Garner contributed another 11 points off the bench.
The Cardinals were competitive in the second half but couldn’t put substantial damage into the Ashland lead and fell 82-64.
The teams were even in both turnovers and points off turnovers. However, Ashland out-rebounded Saginaw Valley 41-32.
Sophomore guard Jake Daniels had five points and three rebounds for SVSU, while senior guard Mike Wells Jr. had nine points and four rebounds.
On Saturday, SVSU took a huge overtime victory over Tiffin, winning 88-86 to guarantee a spot in the GLIAC tournament. The Cards overcame adversity, having a worse shooting percentage for the night from the line, field and three-point line. However, SVSU had five less turnovers than Tiffin with a total of 12.
“We thought the entire team showed a lot of grit in a tough place to play with a lot of pressure to get into the post season on our hands,” head coach Randy Baruth said. “I’m happy for this group. My only wish is that we had 30 more games left, but we are going to get prepared for Wednesday and go compete.”
The game was close throughout, with SVSU holding just a three-point advantage at halftime. After a highly competitive second half, Tiffin forced overtime via a Terrell Mabin layup with 16 seconds left to play.
In overtime, SVSU outscored Tiffin 12-10, with two DJ Hoskins free throws sealing the deal late.
Wells played 45 minutes in the contest and had a game-high 28 points along with five boards, four assists and four steals.
Evans had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. John also posted a double-double with 18 points, 15 boards and one steal.
“I just try my best to leave it all on the court every time I am out there,” John said. “I feel as though if I do, it will put us in a great position. We still have work to do, and that starts with practice (today).”
SVSU will play GLIAC regular season champion Ferris State in the first round of the GLIAC tournament on Wednesday, Feb. 28. No. 3 Ferris swept the season series with the Cardinals by scores of 81-45 and 107-83.