Defense, Threes Keep No. 1 Eagle Women Undefeated, 75-61

Defense, Threes Keep No. 1 Eagle Women Undefeated, 75-61


THE TURNING POINT: Ahead 40-39 with 4:41 left in the third quarter, Ashland outscored Grand Valley State 14-2 the rest of the period. 

STAT OF THE GAME: The Lakers scored just nine points off 18 Eagle turnovers, while AU scored 23 points on 23 GVSU miscues.

Ashland University's women's basketball team's defense travels well.

So does the Eagles' 3-point shooting prowess.

No. 1-ranked Ashland will go into Christmas at 13-0 overall and 6-0 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference following a 75-61 win at No. 22 Grand Valley State (8-3, 4-2) on Monday (Dec. 19) night.

The Eagles' 13 consecutive wins to begin 2016-17 mark the program's third-best start in 50 seasons (24-0 in 2012-13, 21-0 in 2015-16). They go into 2017 with a three-game lead in the GLIAC South Division over Ohio Dominican and Walsh, a four-game lead over Hillsdale, Tiffin and Lake Erie and a five-game lead over Findlay.

Ashland kept Grand Valley to 36.4 percent shooting from the field and 26.3 percent from 3-point range, while forcing 23 turnovers.

The Eagles also hit 10-of-19 from downtown – marking the fourth time this season AU has hit double-digit treys. The 52.6 percent is Ashland's second-best mark of the campaign.

Junior forward Laina Snyder scored a game-high 16 points on 7-of-12 from the field, and added eight rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block. She passed Gail Wasmus and Darla Plice to move into 12th place on Ashland's all-time scoring list, and has 1,209 career points.

Senior guard Kelsey Peare was 4-for-4 from long range and collected 14 points, four boards and five assists, while freshman guard Jodi Johnson added 12 points, nine rebounds, two helpers and five thefts.

Freshman guard/forward Sara Loomis, like Peare, was 4-for-4 from the arc, and ended with 12 points in just six minutes.

Both teams struggled offensively out of the gate, with Ashland leading 6-5 halfway through the first quarter. Snyder had all six Eagle points.

The Lakers scored five straight points, then the Eagles countered with 10 in a row to retake the lead at 16-10. Ashland led 16-12 after the first quarter, then at the media timeout with 4:59 left until halftime, the AU lead was 22-20.

At the break, the Eagles led the Lakers, 31-27, and kept GVSU to 36.0-percent shooting from the field while forcing 13 turnovers. Snyder posted 14 points and six rebounds in the game's first 20 minutes.

Grand Valley State took its first lead since early in the game at 33-32 with 8:35 to go in the third quarter, but junior forward Andi Daugherty (who moved into 15th place all-time at Ashland with 1,128 points) responded with a 3-pointer less than a minute later.

Neither team was able to pull away until late in the third, when three consecutive Loomis triples allowed Ashland to go into the game's final 10 minutes up 54-41.

Ashland has the most wins (157) and highest winning percentage (.872) in Division II since the start of the 2011-12 season.

UP NEXT: A Division II top-five matchup on Dec. 30 at 1 p.m. at No. 4 Bellarmine (10-0).