While the students were away, the Ravens came to play. Over the holiday break, several AU sports teams continued to perform well, while others experienced a much needed turn around.
The women’s basketball team continued their comeback season posting a 3-3 record over break that was highlighted by a three game winning streak to start out the new year. Due to their strong performance, the Lady Ravens currently sit at 8-9 on the season with a 4-6 conference record—good enough for fifth in the HCAC.
The dynamic pair of freshmen Lexi Dellinger and Payton Moore continue to dominate, averaging 15.4 and 14.2 points per game respectively. At this point in the season, the Ravens have settled into a regular eight-player rotation that is producing well.
Moving forward, the team will need to limit turnovers, as they are averaging a less-than-ideal 20 turnovers per game compared to 13 a game by opponents. Winning the turnover battle will be key as the women hope to finish the season strong and return to the HCAC tournament just one year after they went 0-25.
Men’s basketball was able to right the ship over break. After a 1-4 start, the Ravens now sit at 7-10 and an impressive 6-4 in conference play. The slow start could be attributed to a tough non conference schedule with several long road trips. The team is 1-5 in games out-of-state this season.
One of the main reasons Coach Handy’s squad has made up so much ground is their steady performance over Christmas break against some very formidable opponents. While only recording a 3-4 record during the month- long stretch, they were able to take down some tough opponents, highlighted by an eight point win over 12-4 Bluffton. The men’s team is also in fifth place in the conference but are primed for a late season run.
All five starters are averaging double digit points, led by Cole Hartman, who has been tremendous for the Ravens since returning from an injury that kept him out early on this season. He is averaging 14.3 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.
The last time that both AU basketball teams qualified for the post season tournament was 2010. That year also marks the last time the women’s team finished top six in the HCAC.
The swim teams had the holiday break off but came back strong during the first week of classes.
Wittenberg proved to be too much for the men last Friday by a score of 126-84. The team swam a man down due to an illness preventing freshman Evan Kropf from swimming. Even with the overall loss, the Ravens were successful in several events. Sophomores Bryce Holt and Kris Keller each picked up individual wins and teamed up with Conner Page and Josh Ekberg to win the 200 medley relay. Garrett Campbell, Andrew Tafinger, Ekberg and Holt also won the 200 freestyle relay.
Keller has had a tremendous sophomore season, and now holds 13 of the 23 school records. Interim head coach Megan Wills sung Keller’s praises after Friday’s meet, calling him a flexible swimmer who can step up and do a lot for the team.
The Lady Ravens came away victorious in their side of the meet, outscoring Wittenberg 140-102. While the whole team swam well, it was the freshmen who shined brightest. Aubrey Davis, Noelle Parks, Claire Leibold and Tess Maubach were among the first year swimmers to win individual races. The all-freshmen 200 medley and 200 Freestyle relay teams also helped the Ravens secure the victory.
The women’s team has won two straight dual meets and will be looking to continue that trend Saturday against Transylvania.
Previously in the program’s history, AU has struggled to pick up team wins due to the small size of the program. With only a few male and female swimmers in years past, the team didn’t normally have enough players to compete in all of the events, causing them to face an almost impossible road to victory. With strong freshmen and sophomore classes on both swim teams, the future is bright for the Ravens.
All winter sports teams are back in action. For some, there was a long holiday break and a chance to rest up. For others, the break marked a turning point in their season.
In all cases, the Ravens look like they can make some noise at the end of the year and into their respective HCAC tournaments.