More than four months ago, Ashland University's women's basketball team finished its preseason schedule in Columbus.
On Sunday (March 19), the top-ranked Eagles started back down the highway to Columbus to end its 2016-17 season at the NCAA Division II Elite Eight.
The Ashland University campus and the Ashland community, whom head coach Robyn Fralick calls the team's "sixth man," gave AU's women (34-0) a sendoff outside of the Physical Education Center prior to the team making the hour-plus drive to prepare for the team's national quarterfinal on Tuesday (March 21) at 6 p.m. vs. West Texas A&M (26-8) at Alumni Hall on the campus of Ohio Dominican University.
"The Ashland faithful has been amazing all season," Fralick said, "and this is just another instance of their unbelievable support."
Said senior guard Kelsey Peare, "This is so cool. I highly doubt any other school would have this much support leaving for the Elite Eight. We just feel very thankful and blessed to be a part of Ashland women's basketball and this community."
Tuesday will be the third time Ashland will play in Columbus in 2016-17, having also played at ODU on Feb. 2 (a 90-52 victory), and prior to the start of the regular season, taking on Division I Ohio State in an exhibition game on Nov. 6.
"Somebody asked me earlier if we did that on purpose," said Fralick. "We were just really thankful we got an opportunity to play Ohio State. We knew all along that Columbus was the final spot, so that was added motivation, knowing that that's down the road."
"I think it's very ironic that we got to start our season in Columbus, and end it in Columbus, hopefully on a high note," said Peare.
Presale tickets for the Elite Eight still are available at http://ohiodominicantickets.universitytickets.com/user_pages/event_listings.asp. Tickets can be bought for all sessions or each individual session, and all tickets are general admission (stadium seats are permitted). Prices are $10 for adults and $5 for children/college students per session, or $20 for adults and $10 for children/college students for an all-tournament pass.
Pre-sale ticket orders can't be made over the phone.
Fan buses are available for Tuesday's game for a cost of $15 per person, game ticket not included. Space is limited, and reservations are required. The buses will leave campus at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, and leave Ohio Dominican approximately 30 minutes following the game. Anticipated return time is 9:30 p.m.
Spots for the buses can be reserved at https://securelb.imodules.com/s/950/index.aspx?sid=950&gid=1&pgid=1277&cid=2549&post_id=0.