CLINTON, Iowa - The Ashford women's basketball team wrapped up a four-game homestand on Wednesday, falling to 15th-ranked Mount Mercy, 69-58.
Ashford saw three players score in double-figures, led by junior Courtney Panus' 17 points. Panus was joined in double-digits by fellow juniors Gaby Ayon and Patricia Ramos, who finished with 12 and 11 points, respectively.
But the difference in the ball game turned out to be the Mustangs' hot hands from behind the three-point line. Mount Mercy connected on 11-of-20 shots from long distance, keying the Mustang's victory.
"They're a very good team that shoots the ball incredibly well," Saints Head Coach Amy Eagan said. "We knew that coming in to this game and we kept our hands at our sides as opposed to having one in a shooter's face. At the same time, they're also good at creating shots off the dribble, and that caused some matchup problems for us tonight."
With Ashford leading early in the first half, the Mustangs would grab the lead for good after a layup from Laura Lippert to make it a 5-4 game with 17:31 to go in the opening frame. That was followed up by three consecutive triples to give the Mustangs a lead they would hold for the rest of the game.
The Saints stayed with the Mustangs in the first half, matching each bucket with a response, and a three-pointer from Ramos pulled the Saints to within 34-28 at the half.
A bucket from Panus out of the half pulled Ashford to within four early in the second half, but the Mustangs continued their hot shooting from the first half, pulling ahead after buckets from Becca Lampe and Emily Greiner shortly after to seize the lead for good.
Despite the loss, the Ashford coaching staff was pleased with the performance on the interior.
"Our post players had a very strong night," Eagan added. "They crashed the boards well, finished around the rim and competed all night. That is the kind of effort we expect from them each night, and they answered the call tonight.
Greiner led all scorers in the game with 25 points, which included going 5-for-8 from behind the arc. Greiner was joined in double-digits by Lippert and Micah Mims, who finished with 14 and 12 points, respectively.
The Saints had one of their best shooting nights of the season, knocking down 49% (24-for-49) of their shots. The Mustangs finished the game shooting 43.6% (24-for-55) from the floor.
With the loss, Ashford falls to 9-15 on the season, 5-8 in the MCC. Mount Mercy improves to 18-7 with a 10-3 mark in the MCC.
The Saints will head back on the road, starting a three-game road trip on Saturday when they travel to Dubuque to face Clarke. The Saints knocked off the Crusaders earlier this season, 66-63 back on Jan. 7 in Clinton.
Tip-off for Saturday's contest is set for 1:00 p.m.