SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – In the first round of the 2019 NCAA Division II Midwest Regional tournament at Drury University on Friday (March 15) night, Ashland University's women's basketball team lost to Northern Michigan, 64-57, in the third matchup of the season between the two Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference rivals.
"Congratulations to Northern Michigan. They put together a really good game," said Ashland head coach Kari Pickens. "They're a great team, and we wish them the best of luck moving forward.
"I'm really proud of the season that this team had. It obviously wasn't the ending that we wanted, but our girls bought into what we asked them to do all year, and I'm really proud to be their coach."
The No. 4-ranked Eagles (29-3) already had defeated the Wildcats (23-9) 71-55 at home on Jan. 5, and 65-58 at Grand Valley State on Sunday (March 10) for the 2019 GLIAC Tournament championship.
THE MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
- The Eagles stopped the back-and-forth that the first few minutes of the game featured, keeping the Wildcats scoreless for more than five minutes while taking a 10-4 lead.
- While the Ashland offense continued to look for some footing early in the second quarter, both junior forward Sara Loomis and junior guard/forward Jodi Johnson took charges on the defensive end, which allowed the Eagles to continue maintain an advantage at 17-16 halfway through.
- For the remainder of the half, however, the Wildcats took over, and an 8-2 spurt gave them a 24-19 lead at the break. In the second quarter, NMU was 5-of-9 from the field and 5-of-5 from the free-throw line, while AU missed all 10 shots from the floor.
- Down 29-22 early in the second half, the Eagles began to chip away at their deficit, and with just more than four minutes left in the third, that deficit was down to one point at 33-32.
- It was at that junction in the game, however, that the Wildcats went on a 7-0 spurt to extend their lead back to eight points at 40-32. Northern Michigan took a 42-35 lead into the fourth period thanks to a defense which continued to hound the Eagles (6-of-15 shooting in the third), and efficient offense (7-of-12).
- With time not on its side, Ashland once again attempted to chip away at NMU's lead. With 6:17 to go, however, Jessica Schultz hit a corner 3, giving the Wildcats a 47-37 lead.
- Loomis kept up her strong play against Northern in 2018-19, cutting its lead to 54-47 inside of the two-minute mark with a 3-pointer. Then, with 63 seconds to go in regulation, she hit another triple to make it a 54-50 score, but Ashland couldn't get any closer than four points down the stretch.
- Loomis ended the night with a career-high 32 points on 11-of-18 shooting from the field and 5-of-5 shooting from the line. In three games against NMU this season, she scored 76 points and grabbed 35 rebounds.
- For the second time in less than a week, Ashland had the rebounding advantage over Northern Michigan, this time at 36-28.
- Senior guard Maddie Dackin tied Julie Worley by playing in her 134th career game on Friday night, second-most in program history behind only Andi Daugherty and Laina Snyder (138).
- Dackin and fellow senior guard Brooke Smith end their Eagle careers as the winningest senior class in program history with 133 victories.
THEY SAID IT
- Pickens – "Northern, they did a great job. They took away some things we thought we could exploit, and kudos to them."
- Pickens – "Sara Loomis played phenomenal for us. I was proud of her effort. What a fantastic last game to hopefully carry into an even better senior season."
- Pickens – "Maddie and Brooke…it's a testament to their hard work, and their buy-in to it not always being easy. They always worked hard, they always put the team first, and that is how they had the seasons and the careers they had here."
- Junior guard/forward Sarah Hart – "It's really difficult (to play a team twice in less than a week). They made good adjustments."
- Loomis – "It's just the situation we were in, so we just had to get prepared, just as they did. It was the same thing for them. They're a great team."