SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – One of the best runs in the history of NCAA basketball has come to an end.
In the 2018 NCAA Division II national championship game on Friday (March 23) night in the Sanford Pentagon, No. 1-ranked Ashland University lost to No. 10-ranked Central Missouri, 66-52.
The Eagles finish 2017-18 at 36-1, and see their 73-game winning streak snapped. The Jennies end at 30-3, and with their second D-II national title.
"A big congratulations to Central Missouri," said Ashland head coach Robyn Fralick. "They played great.
"We talked in the locker room after the game, one game doesn't define us. The things and our purpose are bigger than winning and losing. Being good at basketball doesn't make you a role model. Being good at basketball does give you a platform to impact. I'm proud of them."
Senior forward Laina Snyder scored 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds, sophomore guard Renee Stimpert finished with 10 points, seven assists and five rebounds, and sophomore guard Jodi Johnson grabbed 12 rebounds. Snyder and senior forward Andi Daugherty were named to the all-Elite Eight Tournament Team.
"When you look back at the season, I will remember just the love that we had for one another," Daugherty said, "and the purpose we played with."
Said Snyder, "This year was so fun. I couldn't have asked for a better season. People could see how much fun we had and how much love we had for one another."
1. When the first media timeout was reached at the 4:50 mark of the first quarter, Ashland led 16-8, as it hit seven of its first eight shots and turned four Jennies turnovers into nine points.
2. Central Missouri worked its deficit down to 16-15 late in the first quarter, then Snyder stopped the rally with a put-back layup. Johnson put in two free throws off a turnover shortly thereafter, and at the end of the first 10 minutes, the Eagles led, 20-15. That, despite Ashland missing 11 of its last 12 shots of the opening quarter.
3. Ashland's defense repeated at the start of the second quarter what it did in the first, holding the Jennies scoreless for the first 2:09. Central Missouri wasn't going away, however, and the Eagles took a timeout with a one-point lead at 22-21 with 6:33 to go until halftime.
4. Central Missouri took its first lead at 23-22 shortly out of the timeout, and the Jennies moved their advantage to 27-22 before junior guard Brooke Smith stopped the run with a triple. The Eagle deficit grew to 33-25, then to 35-27, but back-to-back paint buckets from Snyder and Daugherty allowed AU to be down by just four points at 35-31 at the half.
5. In that second quarter, the Jennies hit 10-of-14 shots from the field, while the Eagles were 5-for-12, although AU rallied to make its last three shots going into the locker room.
6. Trailing 39-31 early in the third quarter, Ashland scored five consecutive points, but Central Missouri once again worked its lead back up to seven points at 45-38 at the media timeout with 3:50 left in the period.
7. Layups by Snyder and Daugherty out of the timeout cut the deficit to 45-42, then two Johnson charity tosses got it closer at 46-44 with 2:23 to go in the quarter. At the end of the third, Central Missouri led, 49-44, with the Eagles missing their last six shots from the field.
8. Two consecutive in-and-outs helped keep Ashland off the board for the first 3:22 of the fourth quarter, but a Snyder layup and two free throws by junior guard Maddie Dackin once again cut the deficit to three points at 51-48 with 5:49 to play. The Eagles, however, found themselves down 55-48 when calling a timeout with 3:14 left.
9. Ashland got the game back to 55-52 with 2:17 to play, then the Jennies capped their victory with a 3-pointer to make it an eight-point spread with 1:02 remaining.
10. For the Jennies, Paige Redmond, the tournament's Most Valuable Player, finished with 22 points.