Saturday (Dec. 2) night at Ferris State, Ashland University's women's basketball team used its defense to fend off the Bulldogs until its offense could catch up.
And boy, did the Eagles' offense catch up.
Top-ranked Ashland nearly scored as many points in the third quarter (40) as it did in the first half (43) on the way to a 95-69 win over Ferris State on Saturday in Big Rapids, Mich. The Eagles are 8-0 overall and 2-0 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, and lead the GLIAC South Division outright after the first weekend of 2017-18 league play.
The Bulldogs are 6-2, 1-1.
Ashland's offense was paced by the two players who have led it the entire season to date – sophomore guard Jodi Johnson (23 points) and senior forward Laina Snyder (22). It was Johnson's fourth 20-plus-point game this season, and for Snyder, it was the sixth such game of 2017-18, and third in a row.
The Eagles had 22 assists on 29 made field goals (eight helpers by sophomore guard Renee Stimpert), while committing a season-low 12 turnovers. Ashland has turned the ball over fewer times than the game prior in three straight contests.
In forcing 32 turnovers, Ashland has forced at least 24 miscues in all eight games this season.
For Ferris State, forward Rachel McInerney led the way with 16 points, while Kelsey Wyman (12) and Shaniya Huggins (10) each came off the pine for double-digit points.
1. Saturday night's game saw the Bulldogs score the first five points. It was the fourth time in eight games Ashland hasn't scored first.
2. The Eagles then went on a 6-0 run to take their first lead. Ferris State, however, went on a 6-0 run of its own to regain the advantage at 11-6. At the end of a low-scoring first quarter, Ashland led 17-16 thanks to a defensive effort which forced eight turnovers and kept the Bulldogs to 37.5-percent shooting from the field – and in spite of missing 16 of 21 shots from the floor.
3. Trailing 18-17 early in the second quarter, the Eagles scored seven points in a row – three baskets with three assists – to force FSU to call a timeout. Ashland's first double-digit lead was 37-27 with 2½ minutes to go in the first half, and its advantage was 43-37.
4. The game opened up for both teams in the second 10 minutes, but the Eagles had the halftime lead thanks to two major factors – 14 Bulldog turnovers and a 14-for-16 showing by AU at the free-throw line.
5. Through the first seven games in 2017-18, Ashland was plus-65 in third-quarter scoring this season, and Ferris State was plus-40. In the third quarter Saturday night, the Eagles outscored the Bulldogs, 40-21.
6. The Eagles scored 95 points for the second game in a row despite hitting a season-low 35.4 percent from the field. The flip side to that was taking a season-high 35 shots from the foul line and making a season-high 30 for 85.7 percent.
7. A 45th straight victory inches Ashland closer to the No. 2 spot in NCAA Division II women's basketball history, which is 49 wins in a row by North Dakota State from 1994-95.
8. Saturday's victory was the Eagles' 350th all-time in regular-season conference play between the GLIAC (1995-current), the Great Lakes Valley Conference (1984-95) and the Greater Ohio Athletic Conference (1982-84).
9. Ashland other winning streaks increased on Saturday night include 42 in a row in the regular season, 28 in a row in the GLIAC regular season, a school-record 24 in a row away from home, 21 in a row away from home in the regular season and 14 in a row away from home in the GLIAC regular season.
10. Ashland returns home undefeated despite playing six of their first eight games on the road.
Thursday (Dec. 7) at 5:30 p.m. at Kates Gymnasium vs. Wayne State (6-2, 1-1).