Ashland takes care of business in first round

By Chris Bils

On a day when upsets ruled the Division II women’s basketball landscape, Ashland held tough and moved on to the second round with a 70-56 victory over Indianapolis.

The Eagles (32-1) rode behind the stellar play of senior forwards Kari Daugherty and Daiva Gerbec. Daugherty had a game-high 31 points and 14 rebounds and Gerbec reached double-double territory as well with 14 points and 14 rebounds.

“The inside game was really working today and I think that a lot of the guards were really looking inside, too,” Gerbec said.

The game was nearly identical to the first meeting between the two teams, which Ashland also won, 70-54, on Dec. 14.

Daugherty scored the Eagles’ first seven points, part of a 13-3 run that got the home fans on their feet.

Daugherty left the game with 12:48 left in the first half after a scary moment when she got poked in the eye. She returned a little more than four minutes later and finished the half with 12 points and six rebounds in 15 minutes of action.

“She gets poked in the eye and she can barely see out of it—it was going black and blue on her,” AU head coach Sue Ramsey said. “She knows one way to play and that’s what she brings us.”

The Greyhounds (19-9) simply could not handle the presence of Daugherty and Gerbec, who were both named to the Daktronics All-Midwest Region first team earlier in the week.

The pair combined to grab four offensive rebounds in the opening half as the Eagles marched to a 41-27 halftime lead thanks to a 10-point advantage in second-chance points.

Indianapolis guards Katy McIntosh and Kristin Turner were also named to the region’s first team, but only Turner was able to get going offensively. She finished with 17 points and six assists while McIntosh had just five points on 2 of 10 shooting and four assists.

“It was team defense,” Ramsey said. “That’s the best I’ve seen anybody lock down McIntosh.”

Ashland sophomore guard Taylor Woods was a solid third option offensively, finishing with 10 points, nine rebounds and five assists on a night when she was just 3 of 10 from the field.

She made a big 3-pointer with 8:06 to play that extended the Eagles’ lead to 15 (59-44) and nearly blew the roof off of Kates Gymnasium. She can add that shot to her dagger collection along with the one she hit in Sunday’s win over Findlay.

“I did hear the crowd go wild and I knew that it was a big shot probably, but I think my focus was more on getting back on defense and getting the next stop,” Woods said.

Ashland’s offense continued to run through Daugherty in the second half, and she racked up 19 points on 6 of 14 shooting in the final 20 minutes despite the fact that her eye continued to swell as the game wore on.

“It’s tournament time,” Ramsey said.

The Eagles did not have their best shooting night (25 of 61, 41 percent), but took advantage of a 48-34 advantage in rebounds, including 14 offensive boards.

Junior guard Alyssa Miller had five points, two assists, two rebounds and a steal and senior forward Ashley Dorner added four points and three rebounds off the bench.

Dajana Jovanovic had 10 points for Indianapolis.

Ashland will play the winner of Friday’s nightcap between Michigan Tech and Kentucky Wesleyan on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. That game will follow the other regional semifinal between No. 6 seed Wayne State and No. 7 seed Wisconsin-Parkside, who knocked off higher seeds Findlay and Lewis in Friday’s earlier games.

“All eight teams in here are primed and ready and great competition,” Ramsey said.