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Urbana University wins home opener; Lady Blue Knights fall in overtime

In a back-and-forth battle that never saw a double-digit lead, the Urbana University men’s basketball team held off visiting Ashland University 71-68 in a Tuesday night nailbiter in the Grimes Center.

Urbana overcame an early 8-point deficit with the help of senior guard Ramel Mitchell, who returned to the lineup after missing the first four games with an injury. Mitchell came off the bench and scored 6 points in his first three minutes of action. The captain finished with 18 points on 7 of 10 shooting.

Ashland led by two at the half, but after a Danny Goins jumper put Urbana on top with 18:24 to play, the Eagles never held another lead. Ashland trimmed Urbana’s lead down to 69-68 with 1:40 to play, but Goins had the biggest bucket of the game with 28 seconds left. The junior guard’s driving lay-up down the middle of the lane with the shot clock expiring gave the home team some breathing room. After the teams traded turnovers, the Eagles had a guarded look at a three to tie it at the buzzer. Will Evans’ attempt clanged off the rim and into the hands of Urbana’s Josh Brown as the horn sounded.

Urbana’s Armond Battle led all scorers with 20 points. The senior Wright State transfer also had 8 boards, 3 blocks and 2 steals. Goins knocked down 6 of 9 from the field to finish with 15 points, 5 assists and 2 steals. Sophomore Casey Baker pulled down 8 rebounds, including 6 on the offensive glass. Baker’s offensive rebound with 47 seconds left kept the possession alive that ended with Goins’ lay-up to put the home team ahead 71-68.

With the win in the home opener, Urbana improves to 2-3 on the season. The Blue Knights’ 3 losses have come on the road against the #1, #9 and #25 teams in the country.  Tuesday night’s loss was Ashland’s season-opener.

Urbana is home again on Sunday afternoon. The Blue Knights welcome the Lakers from Mercyhurst University for a 2:00 p.m. tip-off.

For the third time in the first four games this season, the Urbana University women’s basketball team lost a game that went right down to the wire. At Hillsdale College on Tuesday night, the Blue Knights forced overtime on a Ciara Geiger lay-up at the buzzer, but the Chargers outscored Urbana 12-3 in the extra frame to win it 83-74.

Trailing by two points with 26 second to play, Urbana’s Jessica Saffold sank a pair of clutch free throws to tie the game at 69. Hillsdale’s Megan Fogt (Anna) knocked down a go-ahead lay-up with 5 ticks left on the clock. Fogt was fouled, but she missed her free throw. Saffold rebounded the missed shot and got the ball in Geiger’s hands with the clock winding down. As the horn went off, the sophomore guard laid it in to send the game into overtime.

The home team then scored 12 straight points to clinch the victory in the Chargers’ season opener. Hillsdale was helped by a 56-34 advantage on the boards, including an 18-9 disparity on the offensive glass. Urbana’s Kate Francisco led all scorers with 22 points on 7 of 14 shooting. Geiger, the reigning G-MAC Player of the Week, finished with 21 on 9 of 17 shooting. Saffold pulled down a team-high 12 boards, and guards DeVonyea Johnson and Kennedy Boggs each chipped in 9 points.

This Thanksgiving weekend, the Blue Knights (1-3) travel to regional rival Ashland University for the Holiday Inn Classic. Urbana will face #1 Ashland on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. On Sunday, the Blue Knights take on Northern Michigan University at 2:00 p.m.

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