The last time Ashland University's women's basketball team played at Alumni Hall at Ohio Dominican University, the Eagles won the 2017 NCAA Division II national championship.
On Friday (Nov. 9) night, AU needed a second-half comeback to begin the 2018-19 season at 1-0, as outscoring Cedarville 51-32 in the third and fourth quarters led to an 84-74 victory – the first for head coach Kari Pickens.
In winning its 63rd consecutive game in the regular season, Ashland had several key contributors. Junior guard/forward Jodi Johnson, the reigning D-II national Player of the Year, opened the new season with a game-high-tying 23 points to go with seven rebounds. Junior guard Renee Stimpert added 20 points, six rebounds and six assists.
In her first collegiate start, junior forward Sara Loomis posted a double-double (16 points, career-high 14 rebounds), and senior guard Maddie Dackin picked up 13 points, 11 of those in the second half.
Ashland turned the ball over just five times in the victory – the Eagles' lowest single-game total since Feb. 15, 2018 at Grand Valley State (five).
THE TOP TEN
1. Loomis scored five of the first seven Eagles points. At the game's first media timeout, however, Cedarville had a slim 8-7 advantage.
2. Coming out of that timeout, the Yellow Jackets increased their lead to 15-7 prior to an Eagle stoppage. At that juncture, Cedarville had an 11-5 rebounding advantage, and Ashland had missed eight of its first 10 shots from the field.
3. The first run of the new season came at the end of the first period, as a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Stimpert capped off a 10-1 spurt to put Ashland ahead 17-16.
4. Cedarville worked its lead back to seven points at 29-22 to start the second stanza, and by halftime, the Yellow Jackets' lead was 42-33. The biggest difference was from the field – Cedarville was 9-of-13 from 3-point range in the first 20 minutes, while Ashland was 10-of-33 overall.
5. The Eagles cut into their deficit, moving the score to 48-45 with 6:33 to go in the third quarter. The Yellow Jackets, however, ran off seven consecutive points for a 10-point lead at the third-quarter media timeout.
6. Ashland once again attempted to cut into its deficit, and once freshman guard Hallie Heidemann connected on her first collegiate triple, that deficit was down to three points at 57-54 with 2:19 to go in the third.
7. Going into the fourth quarter, Cedarville sported a 61-56 lead, but the Eagles scored the period's first four points. Stimpert's driving layup with 6:37 remaining put Ashland on top, 64-63.
8. The game was knotted at 68 with a little more than four minutes to go, then at 70 inside of four minutes. Two free throws from Dackin, then a Stimpert jumper, lifted AU to a 74-70 lead at the 2:17 mark. Dackin then converted an old-fashioned 3-point play with 1:11 left to make it a 77-72 Eagle lead.
9. Johnson and Loomis each made two free throws in the final minute to cap the victory. The Eagles finished by hitting 25-of-29 (86.2 percent) from the charity stripe.
10. For the Yellow Jackets, Ashlyn Huffman led the way with 23 points, and Baylee Bennett (16) and Regina Hochstetler (13) each also scored in double figures.
Saturday (Nov. 10) at 3 p.m. at Ohio Dominican, a 64-61 winner over Quincy on Friday in the Panthers' 2018-19 lid-lifter.