The No. 11-ranked Ashland University women's basketball team led Purdue Northwest by 13 points at halftime, then put the accelerator down in the second half, turning a 45-25 third and fourth quarter into an 82-49 win on Thursday (Feb. 14) night at Kates Gymnasium.
Thursday's victory not only moved the Eagle women to 22-2 overall and 14-2 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, but it also gave Ashland an eighth consecutive season with a home GLIAC Tournament quarterfinal game, March 5 at "The Kates."
"At this time of year, you can never take a win for granted," said Ashland head coach Kari Pickens. "I'm proud of our defensive effort. I think we took some huge strides today that needed to happen."
THE TOP TEN
1. The Eagles' defensive showing was key on Thursday night. The Pride made 35.7 percent of their shots from the field and 5-of-25 from 3-point range, and Ashland forced 23 turnovers, which turned into 24 AU points.
2. Ashland's leader in the victory was junior forward Sara Loomis, who recorded yet another double-double at a game-high 18 points and 11 rebounds. Loomis also led all players on Thursday with three steals, which ties a career high.
"I think Sara's actually being really aggressive at the rim," said Pickens. "She's always been a lethal threat at the top of the key, but she is also being really aggressive scoring back to the basket."
3. Senior guard Maddie Dackin was next in the scoring column with 11 points, and freshman guard Hallie Heidemann and junior forward Sarah Hart each added 10 points. Hart also tied a career high with 10 rebounds for her first career double-double. She was 5-for-5 from the field.
"I love coming off of the bench," Hart said. "I can kind of see the flow of the game and what's going on."
4. Junior guard Renee Stimpert got closer to becoming Ashland's all-time assist leader, dishing out six helpers to get to 563 for her career. Alyssa Miller is the program's record holder at 568.
5. Ashland overcame a field-goal percentage of 41.0 and a 3-point field-goal percentage of 24.2 by dominating the boards (51-33), to go along with the team defensive effort.
6. The game got going with an Ashland 13-0 run, and at the end of the first quarter, the Eagles led 24-7 thanks to a defensive effort which featured 11 forced turnovers and keeping the Pride to 3-of-11 shooting from the field.
7. Ashland wasn't able to keep the momentum going in the second quarter, as Purdue Northwest outscored the Eagles, 17-13. At the half, AU led 37-24, but shot just 34.9 percent from the floor and missed 17 of 20 3-point attempts. The defense, however, stayed strong, as 14 Pride turnovers resulted in 14 Eagle points.
8. In the third quarter, Ashland had a 12-point lead at 43-31 with seven minutes to go, but an 11-2 spurt over the next nearly five minutes began to put the game out of reach at 54-33.
9. The Pride hit a 3-pointer to begin the fourth quarter, but the Eagles outscored Purdue Northwest 26-9 the rest of the way.
10. For PNW (3-19, 1-15), Bayley Goodman and Brittany Barnard each scored 15 points.
Saturday (Feb. 16) at 1 p.m. at home vs. Parkside.