THE TURNING POINT: Leading by three points late, Ashland's 7-0 spurt led to the victory.
STAT OF THE GAME: The Eagles went 23-of-26 from the free-throw line – the fourth time in the last five games they have gone for better than 80 percent.
In a game in which an improved Lake Erie squad wouldn't be shaken easily, the No. 1-ranked Ashland University women's basketball team outlasted the Storm on the road, 86-79, in a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference South Division contest on Thursday (Jan. 19) night.
The Eagles improve to 19-0 overall and 11-0 in the GLIAC, while the Storm are 7-10, 5-6. AU's lead in the GLIAC South Division over second-place Ohio Dominican is four games with nine regular-season contests to go.
Ashland, one of four undefeated teams in NCAA Division II coming into the day, continues the third-best start in program history. The 2012-13 national-championship team started 24-0, and the 2015-16 squad won the first 21 games of the season.
Eagle head coach Robyn Fralick won her 50th career game in just 52 outings leading Ashland on Thursday night.
Junior forward/center Laina Snyder recorded her 36th career double-double (23 points, 10 rebounds), while adding seven assists and two blocked shots. She passed Gweynn Hampel to move into seventh place on Ashland's all-time scoring list with 1,327 career points.
Freshman guard Jodi Johnson was next on the score sheet with 16 points to go with seven rebounds, three assists and two steals. Junior forward Andi Daugherty posted 13 points, five rebounds and two helpers, and moved past both Darla Plice and Jackie Mason into 12th place all-time at Ashland with 1,218 career points.
Ashland hit 50 percent from the floor and 88.5 percent from the free-throw line, and outrebounded the Storm by a 44-28 margin.
Lake Erie scored the game's first five points, then Ashland countered with a 16-4 run. After the first 10 minutes, the Eagles led 22-18, and Snyder already had scored 10 points.
Ashland couldn't shake the Storm in the second quarter, and led 36-35 with 4:16 to go until halftime. Lake Erie was held scoreless for nearly four minutes heading into the break, and the Eagles led 41-37 at the half, as Daugherty scored nine points in the stanza.
Leading 48-46 in the third quarter, Ashland was able to start to pull away from Lake Erie thanks to a 10-4 spurt. But the Storm didn't go away, and the Eagle lead going into the game's final 10 minutes was three points at 65-62.
It seemed as if Ashland would pull away at the start of the fourth quarter, as the Eagles built up a 74-64 advantage with 7:59 to play. Once again, however, Lake Erie kept the yo-yo nature of the game going, cutting its deficit back to four points at 76-72.
A 79-76 AU advantage at the 3:41 mark held up, as the Storm was kept scoreless until the final 11 seconds of play.
Ashland has scored at least 75 points in all 19 games in 2016-17.
The Eagles came into the week with the most wins (162) and highest winning percentage (.876) in the country since the start of the 2011-12 season.
Ashland is 34-1 (.971) all-time when playing as the No. 1-ranked team in Division II.
UP NEXT: A week between games, then back on the road in the GLIAC South on Jan. 26 at 5:30 p.m. at Walsh.