Not every win can be a comfortable one.
The top-ranked Ashland University women's basketball team has found that out in recent weeks.
Ashland (34-0), the national leader in scoring margin per game at 31.6 points, has found the sledding a little rougher since the end of the regular season:
- In an 85-76 home win over Grand Valley State on March 5 in the 2017 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament championship game, the Eagles had to rally from a 71-66 deficit going into the game's last five minutes. Ashland fashioned a 19-5 run to come back and win, starting with a corner 3-point field goal by senior guard Alex Henning.
- The rematch with the Lakers six days later on Saturday (March 11), in a Midwest Regional tournament semifinal, saw Ashland leading 63-58 with four minutes to go. The ensuing 14-4 run allowed the Eagles to win by a 77-62 count.
- Finally, clinging to a 45-44 lead with 2:49 to go in the third quarter of the regional tournament championship game vs. Drury on Monday (March 13), Ashland went on a 15-4 run over the next five minutes to pull away.
"Our region is loaded," said Ashland head coach Robyn Fralick. "This time of year, you've got to bring it, and you've got to be all on the same page. I thought we had great fight. When teams made runs, I thought we showed great fight and hit back."
While the Ashland offense put up two of its lowest point totals of the season during the regional tournament, and had a cumulative field-goal percentage of 42.1, the Eagle defense stepped up in a very key spot. In the three regional wins over Malone, GVSU and Drury, Ashland allowed a total of 164 points.
Against the Pioneers, the Eagles set a new program NCAA Tournament record by allowing 17.2-percent shooting from the field.
"This time of the year, the teams we're playing are great," Fralick said. "You know you've got to guard. We know that. We've known throughout the whole season, but those games, especially, you've got to sit down and be able to get consecutive stops. And I was proud of our defense.
"Offensively, I know we scored under our average, but we're playing really good teams. You've got to work to score. We found ways to score enough."
WHERE TO GET ELITE EIGHT TICKETS: Those looking to purchase pre-sale tickets for any/all Elite Eight games can go to the above link. Tickets can be bought for all sessions or each individual session, and all tickets are general admission (stadium seats are permitted).
Ticket prices are $10 for adults and $5 for children/college students per session, or $20 for adults and $10 for children/college students for an all-tournament pass.
Pre-sale ticket orders can't be made over the phone.
FAN BUSES TO MAKE THEIR WAY TO COLUMBUS: Fan buses are available for Tuesday's (March 21) quarterfinal vs. West Texas A&M at 6 p.m. for a cost of $15 per person, game ticket not included. Space is limited, and reservations are required.
The buses will leave campus at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, and leave Ohio Dominican approximately 30 minutes following the game. Anticipated return time is 9:30 p.m.
To reserve a spot on the buses, click the above link.