With Ashland University's women's basketball team leading Parkside by 13 points going into the last two minutes of Saturday's (Feb. 16) game at Kates Gymnasium, the only drama remaining was if junior guard Renee Stimpert would have the program's career assist record by herself at the end of the day.
Stimpert indeed does, as her feed to sophomore forward Karlee Pireu inside of the two-minute mark broke the tie, and helped the No. 11-ranked Eagles to a 70-60 victory over the Rangers. Stimpert's six assists on Saturday give her 569 as an Eagle, and moves her past Alyssa Miller (568) in the process.
"I'm just having fun out there. It's fun to play with these girls," Stimpert said.
Said Ashland head coach Kari Pickens, who played with Miller and coached Stimpert, "They're very different players, but they got the job done. Something that sets both of them apart is their basketball IQ. Having played with Alyssa, she understood the game so well. And Nay, she has an instinct that not many people have, to see the play happening before it happens.
"I'm just so proud of her. It's been remarkable what she's been able to do here, and I'm really thankful that I get to coach her for another year."
Ashland is 23-2 overall and 15-2 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, while Parkside is 10-13, 8-9.
"It wasn't the prettiest win, but it was a lot of fun in different ways," said Pickens. "We had a lot of small victories throughout the course of the game, and we came up with a really big win in February, and that's not easy to do."
THE TOP TEN
1. The Eagle defense continues to hold strong, as Parkside shot only 36.2 percent from the floor and 6-of-27 from 3-point range. During its four-game winning streak, Ashland has allowed just 60.3 points per game.
2. Offensively, the game-high scorer was Pireu, who had 19 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field. Pireu also pulled down a game-high-tying seven rebounds, and added a pair of steals.
3. Ashland's offense was balanced in the scoring column, as the remainder of the double-digit scorers came from senior guards Brooke Smith and Maddie Dackin with 11 points each, and junior guard/forward Jodi Johnson with 10.
4. The Eagles had a slim 43-39 rebounding advantage, but the margin was plus-5 in Ashland's favor in the second half.
5. AU shot 42.4 percent from the floor, 44.4 percent from 3-point range and 70.6 percent from the free-throw line. The Eagles assisted on 18 of 25 field goals in the victory.
6. A nip-and-tuck first quarter saw the Eagles score the final four points to end the period with a 19-12 lead. Ashland assisted on seven of eight field goals and shot 50 percent from the field, and the defense kept the Rangers to 5-of-15.
7. The Eagles' 10-2 spurt in the second quarter led to a 35-25 halftime lead. AU's defense continued its strong showings of late, as Parkside made just 31.3 percent from the field in the game's first 20 minutes. Pireu had 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the break.
8. Ashland's largest third-quarter lead was 11 points, and going into the final period, the Eagle lead was 50-41. The pull-away came in early in the fourth quarter, as AU scored the first eight points for a 17-point advantage.
9. The Eagles are 12-1 at home this season, 83-4 at home in the last five seasons and 140-12 at "The Kates" since the start of the 2010-11 season.
10. Parkside was led by 16 points and nine rebounds off the bench from Shelby Cheston.
The start of the final regular-season road trip of 2018-19, Thursday (Feb. 21) at 6 p.m. at Northwood.