Ashland University's women's basketball team won 286 games in the decade of the 2010s.
The 2020s got off to a winning start for the No. 4-ranked Eagles on Thursday (Jan. 2) night in Marquette, Mich., as they ran away from Northern Michigan in the second half en route to an 80-39 victory. Ashland is 12-0 overall and 4-0 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, while the Wildcats are 5-7, 2-2.
Thursday night's victory avenges last season's Ashland loss to Northern Michigan in the first round of the Midwest Regional tournament. The Eagles have topped the Wildcats in 13 of the last 14 matchups.
THE MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
- The Wildcats missed their first six shots from the field, as the Eagles raced out to a 9-0 lead. Neither team could get untracked offensively in the first quarter (Ashland 5-of-15 shooting, Northern Michigan 1-of-14), and AU had a 13-2 advantage going into the second.
- Ashland increased its lead early in the second quarter to 20-2, but thanks to seven straight Wildcat points, the Eagles called a timeout to stem the tide. And stem the tide AU did, as at the half, it took a 27-16 lead thanks to turning the ball over just four times and keeping NMU to 7-of-27 from the field in the game's first 20 minutes.
- The Eagles scored the first seven points of the second half, leading to a 41-24 advantage at the third-quarter media timeout, then a 55-24 lead through three quarters. Ashland ended the period scoring 17 consecutive points.
- Ashland's three double-digit scorers on Thursday night all were seniors. Guard Jodi Johnson led the way with 18 points, while adding a team-high eight rebounds. Guard Renee Stimpert also had a strong all-around game – 16 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals – and is five points away from becoming the 24th player in program history to get to 1,000. Forward Sara Loomis added 14 points, seven boards and three blocks.
- The Eagles entered Thursday night as NCAA Division II's top 3-point shooting team at 45.3 percent, and they did nothing to hurt that against the Wildcats (10-for-22, 45.5 percent).
- Northern Michigan made just 27.8 percent from the field – a season-best defensive effort for Ashland. It is the lowest percentage given up by the Eagles from the field in a single game since Nov. 29, 2018 at home vs. Lake Superior State (27.7).
- The Eagles boasted a 46-31 rebounding margin in the victory, marking the eighth time this season AU has had 40 or more boards.
- With just five turnovers on Thursday, Ashland had its fewest single-game miscues since Nov. 9, 2018 vs. Cedarville (five).
- Ashland has won 83 of its 86 (.965) regular-season GLIAC games.
The end of the Upper Peninsula trip on Saturday (Jan. 4) at 1 p.m. at Michigan Tech (5-6, 3-1).