Prior to Thursday (Jan. 11) night, Grand Valley State's women's basketball team's defense ranked as the best in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Ashland University's women's basketball team proved on Thursday night it has a pretty good "D," as well.
In what was as close to a postseason atmosphere as it comes in January, the No. 1-ranked Eagles defeated the Lakers, 83-67, in a battle of GLIAC division leaders. The victory is Ashland's NCAA Division II women's basketball-record 53rd in a row.
"Our defense is really critical in what we do and who we are," said Ashland head coach Robyn Fralick. "It's a big part of our identity. We stuck with it, and that carried us through the game.
"We see each game as the most important thing that's right in front of us. You have to lock into that."
The Eagles continue to pace the entire conference and the South Division at 16-0 overall and 8-0 in the league, while GVSU is 13-3, 6-2. Ashland has started a campaign with at least 16 straight wins for the third year in a row and the fourth time in the last six years, and Thursday marked the Eagles' sixth consecutive win over the Lakers.
1. Despite shooting 44.1 percent from the floor and 31.3 percent from 3-point range, Ashland received its usual strong showing from the free-throw line (26-for-31), and turned in a defensive effort which forced 31 Laker turnovers converted those into 36 points.
2. Senior forward Laina Snyder posted her 42nd career double-double – 24 points and 11 rebounds, sophomore guard Jodi Johnson added 19 points, seven rebounds, three assists and six steals; senior forward Andi Daugherty chipped in with 17 points, nine boards, six assists and two steals; and sophomore guard Renee Stimpert finished with a career-high-tying 17 points, four rebounds, six helpers and six thefts. Daugherty moved into third place on AU's all-time scoring list by herself with 1,701 career points, and Snyder became the second player in program history, along with Daugherty, to have at least 1,650 points, 800 rebounds, 300 assists, 100 blocks, 125 steals and a field-goal percentage of at least 50.0 in a career.
"We were forcing turnovers, but we didn't score as much as we'd like to off of those," Johnson said. "We were turning the ball over, as well."
3. The start to the game was frenetic, with Ashland taking a 10-9 into the first media timeout. The Eagles led 16-13 after the first 10 minutes, and forced seven turnovers and kept the Lakers to 5-of-16 shooting from the field.
4. Ashland posted the second quarter's first seven points to open up a 10-point advantage, and a 13-2 run to end the period lifted the Eagles to 40-26 lead at the break. Snyder narrowly missed a double-double (10 points, nine rebounds) in the game's first 20 minutes, and the AU defense continued to stifle GVSU to the tune of 18 turnovers and 28.1-percent shooting from the floor.
5. The Eagles couldn't completely shake the Lakers, but going into the final quarter, Ashland still held on to a 59-51 lead.
6. A little more than a minute into the fourth quarter, Grand Valley State cut into Ashland's lead, which stood at 63-56. In the middle of the fourth, however, a quick 7-0 spurt put AU ahead 71-58.
7. One final run, 6-0, put the Eagles up 79-61 with 3:14 to play, and they went on to win from there.
8. Prior to Thursday night's game, a mural commemorating Ashland's 2013 and 2017 NCAA Division II national championships was unveiled. The mural is on the wall inside Kates Gymnasium closest to the lobby where the American flag formerly hung.
9. Ashland has won 26 straight games in the month of January. The Eagles set a new program record with their 50th straight regular-season win, and other winning streaks extended Thursday night were a program-best 47 in a row in the regular season at home, 34 in a row in the GLIAC regular season, 33 in a row in the GLIAC regular season at home and 29 in a row at home.
10. Grand Valley State was led by Jenn DeBoer, who scored 19 points, and Taylor Parmley, who added 16 points and nine rebounds.
Another GLIAC home game on Saturday (Jan. 13) at 1 p.m. vs. Purdue Northwest.