Eagles defeat Huskies, move on to GLIAC championship

Zach Read

The Ashland University women’s basketball team will advance to the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship after defeating Michigan Tech in the semifinals 77-61 on Saturday (March 9).

The Eagles (28-2) reached the semifinals by defeating Parkside on their home floor on March 5 77-59 to earn a trip to Big Rapids, Mich. to play in the GLIAC Final Four for the eighth time in the past nine seasons.

The semifinal game against the Huskies opened up with AU’s junior guard Renee Stimpert finding sophomore forward Karlee Pireu for a wide open layup.

Michigan Tech was able to respond quickly that would begin the back-and-forth pattern that would keep the game close in most of the first quarter but the Eagles found an edge leading 21-13 heading into quarter number two.

The Eagles were able to keep a double digit lead to start off the majority of the second quarter leading 34-20 heading into the media timeout.

However, the Huskies found their stroke from the outside and went on an 11 point run to end the half. MTU freshman guard Ellie McKay nailed a three from the left wing as the horn sounded for halftime to pull the Huskies within three of the Eagles, 34-31.

Coming out of halftime Ashland junior guard Jodi Johnson scored right off the bat with an old-school three-point play but the Huskies hit two three’s to pull within one of the Eagles.

The Eagles started to pull ahead in the middle of the third quarter as they were able to stretch their lead to 49-39 and from there they did not look back.

AU led MTU 56-46 at the end of the third quarter and controlled the rest of the game as the Huskies were not able to crawl their way back into the contest.

The Eagles were led by a strong performance from Johnson who recorded a double-double of 22 points and 12 rebounds in 39 minutes of play. Stimpert also contributed 12 points and six assists while Pireu finished with 10 points and senior guard Brooke Smith scored 10 points in 23 minutes off the bench.

Leading the Huskies was sophomore guard Cassidy Trotter with 22 points and four rebounds while McKay finished with 13 points and three rebounds.

Before Saturday’s Final Four matchups were held, the GLIAC banquet took place on Friday with four Eagles earning all-conference honors including three First-Team selections by Johnson, Stimpert and junior forward Sara Loomis. As well as being selected as First-Team All-GLIAC, Johnson and Loomis were also selected to the All-Defensive team.

Senior guard Maddie Dackin rounded out the honors for the Eagles by being selected to the All-GLIAC Second Team while Grand Valley State’s Cassidy Boensch won the GLIAC Player of the Year.

The No. 1 seed Grand Valley State Lakers (27-3) dropped their semifinal game to Northern Michigan 47-38, who will play Ashland in the GLIAC Championship on Sunday (March 10) at 3 p.m. The Eagles fifth consecutive GLIAC Championship game against the Wildcats can be heard on 1340 WNCO and can be seen on ESPN3.