The old axiom is that it's hard to beat a team three times in a season.
Ashland University's women's basketball team didn't put away Parkside for the third time in 2018-19 until late on Tuesday (March 5) night, as the No. 6-ranked Eagles topped the Rangers, 77-59, in a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament quarterfinal at Kates Gymnasium.
"It was a great first GLIAC Tournament win," said Ashland head coach Kari Pickens. "I thought we played three really good quarters. We take away that third quarter, and it was a phenomenal team effort.
"They're just a physical team. They're a good team. They're well-coached. They're a tricky offense to guard. A lot of credit goes to them."
With the victory, Ashland improves to 27-2 overall heading into the GLIAC Tournament semifinals on Saturday vs. Michigan Tech (21-8), in a No. 2- vs. 3-seed matchup. The Eagles are 28-14 all-time in the GLIAC tourney and now 13-7 in the first round. AU has won 11 straight conference tournament games at "The Kates."
Earlier this season, Ashland topped Parkside, in its first season in the GLIAC, 108-69 on the road on Jan. 10, and 70-60 at home on Feb. 16.
THE TOP TEN
1. Pacing the Eagles on Tuesday was junior guard/forward Jodi Johnson, who led all game scorers with 27 points. Johnson was 11-of-12 from the free-throw line, and added six rebounds and three steals – meaning she becomes just the second player in program history with at least 1,600 points and 300 steals, joining Laina Snyder.
3. With eight assists in the victory, junior guard Renee Stimpert became the first player in program history to record 600 in a career.
4. Ashland's defense kept the Rangers at bay for the entire contest, holding Parkside to 32.2-percent shooting from the floor and forcing 18 turnovers which turned into 21 Eagle points.
5. The first 10 minutes on Tuesday night were a complete, all-around showing for the Eagles. Ashland led 21-9 after the first quarter, shot 53.3 percent from the field, had seven assists on eight field goals, and kept the Rangers to 2-of-12 shooting from the field with five turnovers.
6. Ashland's offense wasn't as efficient in the second quarter, including five turnovers, but the Eagle "D" stayed stingy. Parkside finished the first half making just 7-of-27 from the floor, and AU forced 11 turnovers, as it went to the locker room leading 37-21 at halftime. The halftime advantage was made possible by a deep triple from Stimpert at the buzzer.
7. The third quarter saw the Rangers chip away at their deficit, and by the end of the period, that deficit was just 10 at 51-41. Ashland's offense missed 10 of 14 shots in the third quarter, as Parkside outscored the Eagles 20-14 in the third.
8. Parkside continued to whittle its deficit down, and inside of the five-minute mark, it was a 62-56 game. It was at that point that the Eagles made winning plays down the stretch, particularly at the free-throw line.
9. In the last 3:42 of the game, Ashland made 13-of-16 at the charity stripe, and that led the way for a 15-3 run to clinch the victory.
"We hit some huge ones," Pickens said. "Multiple girls stepped up to the free-throw line. We were real intentional about getting our best free-throw shooters at the line, and they stepped up and hit them."
10. For the Rangers (12-15), Carolina Rahkonen led the way with 12 points.