The SVSU men’s basketball team is now on a three-game winning streak following victories over GLIAC South Division-leading Ashland and conference foe Tiffin.
Against Ashland on Thursday, Jan. 18, SVSU upset the Eagles 72-66 in an exciting win. Senior guard Mike Wells Jr. stole the show with 35 points, five rebounds and four assists. Wells scored 31 of his 35 in the second half.
Ashland got the scoring going, putting up the game’s first points on a Marsalis Hamilton three-point field goal, which was countered by a Wells layup. SVSU went on to take an early lead, but a 9-0 run by the Eagles gave Ashland a 17-13 advantage midway through the first half. The teams traded buckets for the remainder of the half, with Ashland going into the break ahead 34-28.
The Cardinals continued to claw into the Eagle lead in the second half, tying the score at 40 with just over 11 minutes to play. SVSU finally began to pull away, taking a 60-53 lead with 4:42 remaining. That lead extended to 69-61 before Ashland desperately attempted to close the gap late in the contest, but SVSU ultimately held on to win 72-66.
“It feels great,” Wells said. “It’s definitely a confidence booster. We have to be able to keep building. We can beat anyone as long as we play tough and continue to keep playing defense. I’m glad that I have the confidence from my coaches, teammates and myself in order to keep shooting and making shots when we need them most.”
The Cardinals also had a supporting cast of James Toohey and Liam Evans, who combined for 24 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and one block. DJ Hoskins also had seven points, six rebounds and two steals.
Following the Ashland game, SVSU topped the Tiffin Dragons 86-69 on Saturday, Jan. 20. Toohey led the way for SVSU, scoring 26 points, collecting seven rebounds and adding five assists. The Australian freshman hit eight triples in his career day.
The Cardinals also broke the program’s single-game record for three-pointers made with 17, beating the previous record of 15. Toohey was one shy of the single-game individual record for the program.
“We have just really enjoyed seeing our guys play well together as a team,” head coach Randy Baruth said. “We were very lucky to make some shots the last few games, which has helped cover up things we need to get better at. This string (of wins) does not say much unless we get better from it and have a big week of practice.”
Wells added 19 points and six assists. Hoskins also added 18 points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals.
“It’s fun seeing everyone gelling together and playing with confidence,” Wells said. “We are getting better with every game that we play, and we have to keep doing that in order to grow. It’s important for us to continue to stay locked in and play the way we have been in the past few games. We must trust each other and that will help us be successful.”
The Cardinals are now 8-11 overall, including 7-4 at home. They will look to continue their winning ways at home on Saturday, Jan. 27, against Northwood. Earlier this season, SVSU topped the Timberwolves 64-53 in its lone road win of the season. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.