THE TURNING POINT: Leading 43-37 with five minutes left in the third quarter, Ashland finished the game outscoring Michigan Tech, 38-22.
STAT OF THE GAME: The Eagles kept the Huskies to 38.6-percent shooting from the field and 20 percent from 3-point range.
The second verse was the same as the first for the No. 1-ranked Ashland University women's basketball team.
In a 2017 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament semifinal on Saturday (March 4) afternoon at Kates Gymnasium, the Eagles defeated Michigan Tech, 81-59, to advance to the tournament's championship game at home on Sunday (March 5) at 3 p.m.
The Eagles, the tournament's No. 1 seed, are 30-0, while the Huskies, the No. 4 seed, are 20-8.
"I think a clear characteristic of this team is joy. It's a word I use a lot," said Ashland head coach Robyn Fralick. "Joy comes from buying in being on a team, joy comes from playing really hard, getting excited for each other. That's a characteristic of this team that's made this season really special."
"I thought our pressure got better. It's just hard to handle pressure for 40 minutes. And if you are doing it well...the trick is to stick with it."
The Eagles previously defeated Tech at home, 82-75, in the only other 2016-17 meeting between the two teams on Jan. 5.
Ashland, the only undefeated women's or men's basketball team in NCAA Division II, is seeking to become the first GLIAC women's basketball program to win both four regular-season and four tournament championships in a six-year span. Saturday's win also was Ashland's 750th all-time in 50 seasons of the program.
Senior guard Kelsey Peare paced the Eagles with 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the floor and 3-of-3 from 3-point range, and added four assists. Junior forwards Andi Daugherty (16 points) and Laina Snyder (14) also scored in double figures, with Snyder adding seven rebounds, three assists and two steals.
With those two steals, Snyder is alone in second place on AU's all-time list with 259 career. Daugherty now is alone in seventh place all-time in Ashland history with 1,386 career points.
Freshman guard Jodi Johnson filled up the stat sheet with nine points, nine steals (one shy of the school record), six assists and four boards.
Despite hitting a season-low 42.3 percent from the field, Ashland made up for that with a 15-for-19 effort from the foul line, along with forcing 25 Tech turnovers. The Eagles kept Tech to 38.6-percent shooting from the floor and just 4-of-20 from beyond the arc.
For the Huskies, Morgan Anderson and Lindsay Winter each scored 15 points, and Brenna Heise and Winter each grabbed 10 rebounds.
The first quarter was a nip-and-tuck affair, with Ashland taking a 14-12 lead into the second. The Eagles scored the first seven points of the second, thanks in large part to back-to-back triples from Peare and sophomore guard Maddie Dackin.
Leading 32-26 in the final second before halftime, Peare scored five points to lift Ashland to a 37-28 lead at the break – despite uncharacteristically hitting just 39.4 percent from the field.
The Eagles led 43-37 with five minutes left in the third quarter, but ripped off 10 straight points to pull away, leading to the win. Daugherty and Snyder each had two layups during the run.
Ashland has scored at least 75 points in all 30 games this season.
UP NEXT: On Sunday, both the GLIAC championship game vs. Grand Valley State (a 71-58 winner over Saginaw Valley State on Saturday) at 3 p.m., and the NCAA Division II postseason selection show at 10 p.m. on NCAA.com.