The third quarterfinal game of the 2017 NCAA Division II women's basketball Elite Eight on Tuesday (March 21), at 6 p.m. at Alumni Hall on the campus of Ohio Dominican University in Columbus, Ohio, will feature two of the most experienced postseason programs in the field.
No. 1-ranked Ashland is 34-0, and enters the Elite Eight as the only undefeated women's or men's team in Division II, as well as one of only three undefeated teams at all levels of the NCAA (Connecticut and Amherst women). The Eagles are 18-5 all-time in the D-II postseason, and their .783 winning percentage is tied for the best all-time among programs with at least 20 games played.
West Texas A&M, the No. 8 seed, comes into the Elite Eight at 26-8 after having won the South Central Regional tournament. The Buffaloes' last two games were a 70-67 overtime win over No. 9-ranked Colorado State-Pueblo and a 86-64 triumph over No. 20-ranked Angelo State. WTAM is 35-22 (.614) all-time in the D-II postseason.
Ranked No. 1 in the country, 34-0 overall, 13-0 in road/neutral-site games
Head coach Robyn Fralick (65-2) has said all season that the strength of the team is the team. Ashland boasts five players averaging at least 11.1 points per game, five with at least 4.8 rebounds per game and six dishing out 2.6 assists per contest or more. In addition, of the nine Eagles in the regular rotation, seven are hitting at least 50.6 percent from the field and seven are connecting on at least 75.8 percent from the free-throw line.
Ashland's starting lineup boasts two of the top six scorers in program history in junior forwards Laina Snyder (16.8 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 3.5 apg, 3.0 spg, 50.9 fg%, 79.5 ft%) and Andi Daugherty (15.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.4 spg, 54.8 fg%, 37.9 3fg%, 79.8 ft%), the top 3-point shooter in the country in senior guard Kelsey Peare (11.4 ppg, 3.9 apg, 52.4 fg%, 52.9 3fg%, 80.0 ft%), the top freshman in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in guard Jodi Johnson (11.9 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 3.5 apg, 2.6 spg, 50.6 fg%, 36.1 3fg%, 83.3 ft%), and the player who made the season's play of the year in senior guard Alex Henning (5.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.6 apg, 1.6 spg, 57.5 fg%).
After that, the Eagles' reserves are led by perhaps the best sixth player in the country in junior forward Julie Worley (11.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 57.6 fg%), and two highly-productive guards in sophomore Maddie Dackin (8.3 ppg, 42.4 3fg%) and freshman Renee Stimpert (5.0 ppg, 3.8 apg, 75.8 ft%).
WEST TEXAS A&M
Unranked nationally, 26-8 overall, 13-7 in road/neutral-site games
The Buffs are led by head coach Kristen Mattio, who is 54-13 in her second season. While Ashland is first in the country in field-goal percentage (50.9), West Texas A&M is second (49.2). WTAM has a balanced team, as well, with three double-digit season scorers, three players with at least 5.0 rebounds per game and five regular players hitting at least 50.6 percent from the field.
Senior guard Sasha Watson paces the Buffs at 14.0 points and 4.6 assists per contest, takes (165) and makes (111) the most free throws on the team and is the WTAM leader with 67 steals. Watson shoots 51.5 percent from the field.
Another senior guard, Alie Decker, a Wichita State transfer, goes for 10.9 points per game while hitting 41.1 percent from 3-point range and ranking as the team's workhorse at 32.3 minutes a contest. Senior center Maddison Wild averages 10.7 points and a team-high 5.9 rebounds per game while hitting 55.5 percent from the field and a team-leading 84.8 percent at the foul line.