THE TURNING POINT: Ashland scored the first 23 points of the third quarter to pull away.
STAT OF THE GAME: The Eagles completed the program's first undefeated regular season and the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's first 20-0 women's basketball regular season.
There's been a lot for Ashland University's women's basketball team and its fans to celebrate throughout the 2016-17 season.
Thursday (Feb. 23) night at Kates Gymnasium was no exception.
The No. 1-ranked Eagles finished off the program's first undefeated regular season and the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's first 20-0 women's basketball regular-season schedule with a 106-76 win on Thursday against Tiffin. Ashland heads into the 2017 GLIAC Tournament at 28-0 overall, while the Dragons' season ends at 6-19, 4-16.
"This team's maturity and consistency and genuine love for each other has made it a joy," said Ashland head coach Robyn Fralick. "It's not something we think about a lot. We really are focused about what's in front of us, but because they're such a joyful group and selfless group, it makes it more rewarding."
On Senior Night, guards Kelsey Peare (15 points, three rebounds, four assists, three steals), Alex Henning (five points, four rebounds, one assist, one steal) and Rachelle Morrison (three points, one rebound, one assist) all played key roles in Ashland's 28th consecutive win to start the season, and 11th 100-point game of 2016-17.
- "Honestly, it's just surreal," Henning said. "Being able to do it with these two has been really special. And we're still going. It's not sad. We're ready to keep going."
- Said Peare, "Our fans are great. We feel very thankful that they come out and support us every night, and I'm just thankful for this team."
- Morrison said, "It's been a blast, and it's also went by so fast. This has been the most amazing year of my basketball career, and not because we're 28-0, but because of the people I do it with. It's been a lot of fun."
"There's a lot of reasons and things that go into it," Fralick said, "but the biggest factors have been our senior leadership has been outstanding."
Six Eagles scored in double figures – freshman guard Jodi Johnson (career-high 20 points), junior forward Julie Worley (career-high 20), Peare, freshman guard/forward Sara Loomis (13), junior forward Andi Daugherty (12) and sophomore guard Maddie Dackin (10).
Ashland shot 50 percent from the field and 84.2 percent from the free-throw line, and had 25 assists (a career-high nine from freshman guard Renee Stimpert) on 40 made field goals. The Eagles turned 20 Tiffin turnovers into 24 points.
For the Dragons, Ali Schirmer had a team-high 18 points off the bench.
Tiffin kept within arm's length of Ashland in the first quarter, thanks to hitting 8-of-16 from the field. The Eagles, however, still scored 29 points in the game's first 10 minutes and had a nine-point lead going into the second stanza.
Leading 31-22 early in the second, Ashland scored eight points in a row, including a pair of Johnson layups. The biggest Eagle lead of the first half was 18 points at 49-31 with three minutes to go until halftime, and they took a 53-40 advantage in to the break.
Ashland scored the first 23 points of the third quarter, coming up with its usual run in a game to put it out of reach.
Ashland entered Thursday as the only undefeated women's or men's basketball team in NCAA Division II, and one of only seven undefeated women's teams at any level of the NCAA. The Eagles already had clinched their second GLIAC regular-season title in a row and fourth in six seasons, and their sixth GLIAC South Division championship in the last seven years.
UP NEXT: A home 2017 GLIAC Tournament quarterfinal game on Tuesday (Feb. 28) at 5:30 p.m. against Walsh (15-12, 11-9).