Top-Ranked Ashland Heads To Elite Eight Battle-Tested

Top-Ranked Ashland Heads To Elite Eight Battle-Tested


Don't let the highest scoring margin in NCAA Division II women's basketball fool you – Ashland University's women's basketball team has gotten the job done at crunch time.

The No. 1-ranked Eagles (34-0) go into their Elite Eight quarterfinal in Sioux Falls, S.D., against Montana State Billings (25-11) on Monday (March 19) at 7 p.m. having outscored teams by an average of 35.8 points per contest in 2017-18.

That doesn't, however, mean the road to Sioux Falls has been easy:

- In the second game of the season at Cedarville, a 76-72 lead in the final two minutes turned into a 78-77 deficit before senior forward Laina Snyder's buzzer-beating jumper.

- On Jan. 11 at home vs. Grand Valley State – the first of four times the Eagles and Lakers would play in a two-month span – Ashland's lead was cut to six points at 64-58 early in the fourth quarter prior to a 19-9 run to end the game.

- On Feb. 1 at Wayne State, inside of the five-minute mark of the second quarter, the Warriors had a 31-18 lead. The largest deficit Ashland has had all season quickly was erased, however, as it took a 43-38 lead into halftime and didn't look back.

- Two weeks later at the Lakers, the Eagles trailed by 12 points late in the third quarter before forcing overtime and eventually winning, 96-90. That game featured 15 ties and 15 lead changes.

- Finally, on Monday (March 12) at home in the Midwest Regional championship game vs. Drury, Ashland kept the Panthers off the board in the final 3:16 of the game, and converted six free throws in the final two minutes to break a 73-all tie and move on to the Elite Eight.

"We've played a ton of games, and we've played great teams throughout the year," said Ashland head coach Robyn Fralick. "When that happens, you get in situational basketball. We've been in a lot of that. We do that in practice, and I have a really experienced team.

"We have a lot of players that can make a critical play. We feel very fortunate that we have a lot of players who can step up and make a timely play."


Ashland On Verge Of Making More Scoring History

With 3,409 points this season, the Eagles are just 48 away from breaking their own Division II women's basketball single-season record. Ashland can become the highest-scoring NCAA women's basketball team in history with 73 more points, passing Connecticut's 3,481 in 2014-15.

"We have a group of great players who are, more importantly, great teammates," Fralick said. "An unselfish team with a lot of players who can get the ball in the basket."


Free Throws Aiding Eagles' Offensive Success

This is the third season that NCAA women's basketball has played quarters instead of halves. This also is the third season in NCAA women's basketball that there have been no one-and-bonus free-throw situations because of that change.

Ashland has seen a steady increase in free throws attempted per game over that time:













"That must be some of it," Fralick said of the rule change. "It's also our style of play and forcing turnovers and being in numbers situations. It's probably a combination."

The Eagles enter the Elite Eight ranked third in the country in free-throw percentage at 82.3, less than a full percent shy of the program record of 83.1, set in 2011-12.


Another Look At the Record Books

Snyder has scored 664 points, and sophomore guard Jodi Johnson has scored 656 points, this season. They both are chasing current associate head coach Kari Pickens, who has the two top scoring campaigns in program history – 744 points in 2011-12 and 670 points in 2012-13…Snyder already has set a new AU single-season record for field goals made with 284, passing Pickens' 284 in 2011-12…Senior forward Andi Daugherty (1,968 career points and 392 career assists) needs 32 points to become the third player in program history to reach 2,000, and eight assists to become the fourth player in program history to reach 400…Should the Eagles make the Final Four, both Snyder and Daugherty would tie the Division II record for most games played in a career with 137.