(ASHLAND, Ohio) - Walsh edged Ashland in a thrilling 82-78 decision on the road to start GLIAC South play on Thursday evening. The second half was as exciting as any the Cavaliers (11-2, 7-2) have played this season as they and the Eagles (6-7, 3-6) exchanged leads seven times.
The final of those interchanges came when Jesse Hardin (So., 6-1, Warren, OH/Harding) splashed a 3-pointer to give the Cavs a 74-72 advantage with 2:43 to go in the game. It started a short 7-0 for Walsh as Trey Fletcher (Fr., 6-6, Ironton, OH/HS) and Hardin added a pair of baskets after a missed 3-point attempt and a turnover by Ashland on its next two possessions.
The Eagles still threatened to tie the game in the waning seconds, but Hardin rebounded an Ashland miss with four seconds left and hit the ensuing free throws to ice the game.
Walsh once again bounced out to a strong lead in the first half and went up by as many as 12 after Chall Montgomery (So., 6-4, Cleveland, OH/Central Catholic/Navy) made a 3-pointer that put the score at 29-17. Ashland eventually caught up with the Cavs and surged ahead with a 21-5 run to close the first half with a 43-38 lead.
Both teams scorched the nets from field as Walsh made 51.9 percent of its shots to Ashland's 54.4 percent clip. The Cavs helped themselves out from the perimeter as they made an amazing 13-of-24 3-point attempts. Hardin was responsible for five of them while Hrvoje Vucic (Sr., 7-1, Split, Croatia/Faust Vrancic/Valparaiso) added four.
Overall, Hardin was 7-of-14 and led the team with 23 points. Vucic added 22 on 8-of-13 from the floor and pulled down 10 rebounds for the double-double. Fletcher pitched in 18 off the bench to round out Walsh's double-figure scorers.
Ashland featured four players in double figures and were led by Brook Turson's 19 points.
The Cavs will go for their seventh-straight victory in Painesville against Lake Erie on Saturday. Tip-off is set for approximately 3 p.m. after the women's game at 1.