Tenyak, Miller Take Their Turn, Lead Eagles Past NMU
For 40 minutes Wednesday night (Feb. 29), Ashland University junior guard Lindsay Tenyak (Wadsworth, Ohio) was in a zone. After watching Tenyak shoot out the lights and turn out the lights on their season, the Northern Michigan Wildcats looked like they had taken a walk through the Twilight Zone.
Tenyak was 7-of-8 from three-point range and scored a team-high 23 points as the AU women's basketball team opened the GLIAC postseason with a 76-56 win over Northern Michigan. The victory was Ashland's 26th straight and gives the Eagles a 26-1 record. The win also means that for the first time in school history, the GLIAC Final Four will be played in Ashland. That tournament begins on Saturday (Mar. 3) when the Eagles face Michigan Tech at 1 p.m. At 3 p.m., that day, Ferris State will tangle with Tiffin.
Wednesday's victory was also Ashland's 18th straight at home. The Eagles, who are ranked fourth in the nation, are 14-0 at home this season.
Tenyak's triple total was one shy of the school single-game record for three-pointers. That mark is owned by Bridget Donovan who had eight three-pointers against Mercyhurst in 1999. On Jan. 20, 2011, Tenyak was 6-for-6 from three-point range and scored a career-high 27 points at Saginaw Valley State. As GLIAC opponents have learned, if she gets on a roll, teams have a tendency to get steam rolled.
"I wouldn't get those shots if it wasn't for my teammates," said Tenyak, who entered the game fifth in the GLIAC in three-point percentage (.414). "Kari (Daugherty) and Ashley (Dorner) work so hard inside."
Tenyak played all 40 minutes against the Wildcats (13-13) and she never cooled off. She had 11 points in the first half, 12 in the second. All told, she was 8-of-9 from the floor.
Normally, the Ashland offense flows through Daugherty and senior guard Jena Stutzman (Berlin, Ohio/Kent State). Daugherty's first shot didn't come until there was 9:07 remaining in the first half. She would end the game with 12 points and 18 rebounds – that's her 19th double-double of the season and her ninth consecutive twin killing. As usual, she was a demon on the glass. But on this night she didn't need to score her normal 20 points because of AU's balanced scoring. In addition to Tenyak sophomore guard Alyssa Miller (Zanesville, Ohio/Tri-Valley) had 18 points and Dorner had 12 points. Stutzman finished with seven points.
"Everybody can have a highlight night any night of the week," noted Miller who also had six assists. "No one can really stop everybody and everybody has a knack for shooting and everybody knows team basketball."
The Eagles connected on nine of their first 10 field goal tries and had a 20-10 lead seven minutes into the game. At halftime AU was in front, 45-29.
"It's our home court and these young ladies work on their shooting on their own a lot," said head coach Sue Ramsey. "There's a lot of confidence there. We move the ball so well that when we do shoot it we get good looks."
Northern Michigan, which lost to the Eagles, 85-55 on Feb. 18 in Ashland, tried to counter AU's balanced attack with the heroics of guard Chelsea Lyons. Lyons scored 29 points. She was 12-of-24 from the field and 5-of-8 at the free throw line. As impressive as that offensive performance was, NMU couldn't find anyone to supplement her on a consistent basis. No other NMU player had more than eight points.
Every time the 'Cats would put a small run together, someone from the Eagles would step up and halt the surge. At one point in the first half, junior guard Kaci Finfrock (West Milton, Ohio/Milton-Union) came off the bench and rattled home a pair of triples for six points.
"Kaci did a great job," said Ramsey. "We had a stretch there where we didn't get some stops. Kaci hit two big threes. Kaci has really, all year long, done a great job. She's always been able to hawk the ball and she made great decisions."
In the end, the Eagles did what they have done all season, fill up every column on the stat sheet. They outrebounded NMU, 36-28 and shot 50.9 percent (28-of-55) from the floor and 90.9 percent (10-of-11) at the free throw line.
"I know the numbers we got on offense, but we did a great job on the defensive end," said Ramsey. "We didn't let them shoot the three. We worked hard on shutting that down. We got good rotations and we out-rebounded them again. Championship teams rebound and play defense."
"We went back and looked on what we could do better," said Tenyak, speaking of that first NMU game. "We focused on that game. Those tweaks helped us out today."
The Eagles now draw a Michigan Tech team that came to AU on Feb. 18 and lost, 63-62. On Wednesday, Tech thrashed Lake Erie, 82-52. Tech is the fourth seed in the Final Four. Ferris State, the second seed, defeated Findlay on Wednesday, 68-61. Tiffin, the third seed, was 10 points better than Hillsdale, 68-58.
There might be some AU fans who are frightened by another date with Tech. Don't include the Eagles in that crowd.
"We need that type of hype, that big of a game to see where we are," said Miller. "With the teams in this region, we know that's the kind of game we're going to see."