NORTH CANTON – Ending its three-game swing away from home to begin the 2018-19 season, the No. 2-ranked Ashland University women's basketball team won at Walsh on Wednesday (Nov. 14) night, 93-51.
The Eagles are 3-0 to start the new campaign, while the Cavaliers are 2-1.
"It really all starts with our defense," said Ashland head coach Kari Pickens. "When we get stops, we're able to push in transition, and the girls made that adjustment well."
Ashland extended its program records for consecutive regular-season wins (65), regular-season road/neutral-site victories in a row (33) and consecutive wins in pure road (non-neutral site) games (30). The latter mark is two wins away from tying the NCAA Division II record of 32, set by Saint Rose from Nov. 30, 1996-Feb. 20, 1999.
The Eagles are 76-1 in its last 77 games, 115-5 in its last 120 contests, and 220-24 since the start of the 2011-12 season.
THE TOP TEN
1. The game got off to a quick start on the scoreboard, as it was an 11-all tie just inside of the six-minute mark of the first quarter. With 4:36 left in the opening period, Walsh led 15-11, and was 7-for-9 from the field.
2. With 2:31 to go in the first stanza, junior guard/forward Jodi Johnson converted an old-fashioned 3-point play to put the Eagles ahead 16-15. Johnson and junior guard Renee Stimpert each had seven points, and sophomore forward Karlee Pireu six off the bench, as Ashland led the Cavaliers, 24-21, after the game's first 10 minutes.
3. Another Johnson old-fashioned triple early in the second put the Eagles up 30-26, and by the second-quarter media timeout, AU's advantage had grown to 38-31. Walsh needed a timeout with 1:53 to go when Ashland jumped in front, 43-31.
4. By halftime, the Eagles' 16-0 run in the final 6:22 lifted them to a 50-31 lead. Stimpert and Johnson each had 14 points, and Pireu added a dozen, while Ashland hit 60 percent from the field, made all 10 free throws and turned 16 Cavalier turnovers into 21 points.
5. The Eagles extended their lead to 59-35 at the third-quarter media timeout, and then to 72-42 at the end of the third, and went on to victory from there.
6. Johnson's game-high 25 points gives her 1,209 in her AU career, and moves her into 14th place on the program's all-time scoring list. She was 8-of-9 from the field, 3-of-3 from 3-point range, and 6-of-6 from the foul line, and added six rebounds and five assists.
7. Pireu scored a career-high 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting off the bench in her best game as an Eagle.
Said Pireu, "I thought it was a great team win. Just going in and doing what my team needs...I was pumped to get the opportunity."
"I was so proud of Karlee," Pickens said. "She was so steady, kept it really simple. Simple is not easy. Karlee has put in so much time and so much work to be in this position, and I couldn't be more proud of her."
8. Stimpert added 17 points and six rebounds, senior guard Brooke Smith scored a dozen points, and junior forward Sara Loomis chipped in with 10 points and a team-high eight rebounds despite first-half foul trouble.
9. The Eagles entered Wednesday third in the nation in free-throw percentage at 90.0, and they didn't do anything to hurt that standing. Ashland was 14-for-15 from the charity stripe in the victory.
10. For Walsh, Mayci Sales scored a team-high 15 points, and Quionche Carter added 12 points and six rebounds.
The 2018 Ashland University Thanksgiving Tournament, Nov. 24-25 at Kates Gymnasium. Ashland's games will be Nov. 24 at 3 p.m. vs. Missouri S&T and Nov. 25 at 3 p.m. vs. Slippery Rock.
"It will be really nice," said Pickens of the 10-day break. "We'll get a solid stretch of five practices where we can focus on ourselves, then get a little Thanksgiving break with our families."