The Eagles fell to Southern Indiana, 66-60, at Neil Carey Arena on the campus of Lewis University.
The Eagles (23-7), seeded No. 5 in the Midwest region, came up just a few baskets short against the No. 4-seeded Screaming Eagles (23-8).
The loss marked the final collegiate game in the career of redshirt senior guard Ben Haraway, a 2014 Norwalk graduate. He finished with seven points, three rebounds and two steals in the season-ending loss for AU.
Southern Indiana took its first lead of the game on a 3-pointer by Nate Hansen with 16:18 left in the first half, then held the advantage for the remainder of the game.
USI was able to stretch its lead to 24-16 with 6:40 to go in the half before junior guard Rodrick Caldwell cut it down to 26-23 with three free throws with 5:27 left.
Ashland's defense kept the Southern Indiana from pulling away late in the first half as USI took a 37-30 lead into halftime.
USI led by as many as 15 with eight minutes to go in the game — but with their eason on the line, the Eagles clawed back. Ashland responded with a 13-2 run, capped by a steal by senior forward Phil Frentsos and a quick transition jumper by Caldwell.
Ashland had a chance to cut it to one possession, but Kobe Caldwell hit a jumper to stop the run. Caldwell came back at the other end and dropped a 3-pointer to make it 58-55 before the teams traded baskets and the margin was 60-57 with a minute to play.
The Eagles forced a miss on USI's next possession, but the Screaming Eagles got the offensive rebound and drew a foul. Jacob Norman hit two free throws to make it 62-57 and the Eagles got just one free throw on the other end. They were not able to get it back to a one-possession game after that.
Drew Noble and Caldwell led the Eagles with 19 points apiece. Noble added eight rebounds to his tally. Guard Aaron Thompson had a game-high nine rebounds while holding USI's leading scorer and first team all-region selection Alex Stein to just 10 points on 3-for-11 shooting.
Both teams shot below 40 percent and they were even in rebounding at 37.
In 30 starts this season, Haraway averaged 12.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.3 steals per game. He also had just 33 turnovers in the 30 games as a primary ball handler — and led the team in minutes played (1,031).
Haraway was a two-time All-GLIAC selection for AU, earning first team this season and second team last season. He was also the GLIAC Freshman of the Year in 2015 while playing at Malone. He finished third on the team in scoring, while his 2.4 assist-to-turnover ratio was one of the best marks in the GLIAC this season.
He scored the 1,000th point in his Ashland career on Feb. 9 at Lake Superior State. Haraway’s 1,060 points in just three seasons puts him in a 26th-place tie in career scoring at AU. He is one of just 28 players to eclipse the 1,000-point mark at the school. With his 379 points at Malone, Haraway scored 1,439 career points at the NCAA Div. II level.
Haraway helped AU to just its second NCAA Tournament appearance since 1991, and the first since 2016 — the season he sat out as a transfer. It was the 12th time overall the Eagles have played in the tournament, where they are 13-15 all-time.
At Norwalk, Haraway scored 1,184 points (fourth all-time), while his 551 points in 2013-14 are second-most in a season behind cousin Jeff Thomas (561). He is also the all-time assists leader (507) at Norwalk and scored the most points by a Trucker player in the tournament (256 in 16 games).
After scoring 49 points in two games, including a Div. II state championship record 15 free throws in the state title game win vs. Columbus Watterson, Haraway was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2014 state tournament.
Haraway, 2015 New London graduate John Brady and Frentsos were the only seniors on the AU team this season. Next season, Haraway’s younger brother, Brandon, who just finished his high school career at Norwalk, will follow in his footsteps to play at Ashland.