THE TURNING POINT: A 15-0 second-quarter run by Ashland, which increased its lead to 33-15.
STAT OF THE GAME: Junior forward Andi Daugherty scored 21 points on Saturday – 11 of those in a 54-second span toward the end of the third quarter.
FINDLAY – Ashland University's women's basketball team took one more step toward even more history on Saturday (Feb. 18) afternoon.
The No. 1-ranked Eagles won in Croy Gymnasium on Saturday, 102-68, to improve to 27-0 overall and 19-0 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Ashland has one regular-season game remaining in the hunt for the program's first-ever undefeated regular schedule and the GLIAC's first 20-0 conference-schedule finish.
"It's a 40-minute game, and so much of the game is different, streaks of momentum," said Ashland head coach Robyn Fralick. "Our defense was really solid. In the second half, the game opened up period for both teams."
Ashland, the only undefeated women's basketball team in NCAA Division II, already has clinched GLIAC regular-season and South Division championships, and will play host to a 2017 GLIAC Tournament quarterfinal on Feb. 28.
In a season filled with new program records, another one was set on Saturday, as Ashland earned its 15th consecutive road/neutral-site victory.
Ashland scored at least 100 points for the 10th time this season and at least 90 points for the eighth straight game on Saturday, with junior forward Andi Daugherty leading the way with 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field, 3-of-4 from 3-point range and 2-of-2 from the free-throw line. Daugherty added seven rebounds.
Freshman guard Jodi Johnson scored a career-high 19 points to go with six boards, three assists and three steals, and junior forward Julie Worley, making her first collegiate start, added 16 points on 6-of-8 from the floor and a team-high eight rebounds.
"I wish I wouldn't have had to start," said Worley, who got the nod in place of injured junior forward Laina Snyder. "I'm just here to do whatever this team needs, and if that means I needed to start today, then I was ready to come out and do whatever I can.
"We've done a very good job all season of just taking it one game at a time. The next game is the most important."
Saturday marked the first time Ashland made a mid-season starting lineup change since Feb. 19, 2015.
Sophomore guard Maddie Dackin rounded out four Eagles in double-digit scoring with 11 points.
The Eagles shot 57.4 percent from the field, a season-high 68.8 percent from beyond the arc and 80.8 percent from the foul line, while also turning 22 Oiler turnovers into 31 points. Ashland shot 50 percent or better from the field for the eighth time in the last nine games.
For Findlay (13-14, 7-12), Haley Horstman scored a team-high 16 points, while on Senior Day, Karli Bonar added 12.
The first-quarter score stayed still at 6-5 in Ashland's favor for some time, then it was 9-8 Eagles just outside of the five-minute mark after an exchange of 3-point field goals. Ashland's swarming defense led to a 19-15 lead after the first 10 minutes, as the Oilers were 0-for-6 from 2-point range and turned the ball over five times.
Back-to-back layups from Daugherty and Peare in the first 51 seconds of the second quarter extended the Eagles' lead to 23-15. Ashland customarily goes on a long run in the first half – this one was 15-0, and ended with a 33-15 lead with 4:58 to go until halftime.
With 3:33 left until the break, freshman guard Renee Stimpert converted a layup on Ashland's fifth shot of the possession. The Eagles went on to take a 44-23 lead into the break, as they hit 51.7 percent from the field and kept the Oilers to 1-of-16 from 2-point range. Fourteen Findlay turnovers resulted in 17 AU points in the game's first 20 minutes.
"That's what we needed to be able to do defensively," Fralick said. "I thought we did a good job of guarding as a unit. That's how you are able to do that."
Ashland went on a 10-0 run in the first half of the third quarter, then, after Findlay cut its deficit to 54-33, back-to-back triples from Dackin and freshman guard/forward Sara Loomis increased the Eagle lead to 60-33.
Toward the end of the third quarter, Daugherty scored 11 points in 54 seconds en route to Ashland taking a 79-48 lead going into the fourth quarter.
UP NEXT: The 2016-17 regular-season finale – and Senior Night – on Thursday (Feb. 23) at Kates Gymnasium vs. Tiffin (6-18, 4-15).