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Women’s basketball to face UCONN in 2017 exhibition game

Noah Cloonan

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Rarely does a No. 1 ranked team get to take on another team that is also ranked No. 1, but on Nov. 5, 2017, The Ashland University Eagles will take their talents north to Connecticut to challenge what may be the greatest women’s basketball dynasty of all time, the University of Connecticut Huskies.

After talking on Division I Ohio State in exhibition play in 2016, the Eagles have upped their game by challenging Geno Auriemma and the Huskies who are currently in the midst of the longest winning streak in the history of men’s or women’s college basketball.

As of March 31, the Huskies had won an unprecedented 111 straight games, but that streak was broken by Mississippi State, who defeated the Huskies in overtime on a buzzer beater shot. Despite this loss, they have built a dynasty that is unmatched at any level of sports.

11 National Championships, 17 Final Four appearances, and 21 conference titles have made UConn into the best college basketball in history.

AU is going to have the chance that not many Division II schools get, and that is to play the UConn Huskies.

Both teams were the favorites to win the National Championship in 2017. The Eagles, of course, completed the feat, defeating Virginia Union 93-77 to win the program its second National Championship title, although with UCONN’s loss to Mississippi State, what could have been their fifth consecutive title slipped away.

Over the past five years, both teams have been the most dominant teams in their division with the Huskies have gone 222-11 (.953) since the start of the 2011-12 season, while the Eagles have led Division II in that same time period with a record of 181-23 (.887).

During the 5-year stretch, AU has won two National Championships (2013 and 2017) and appeared in three Final Fours (2012, 2013, 2017) while UConn has won four championships (2013-16) and appeared in all five Final Fours.

Not only have both of these programs won the most games in their Divisions, but they have done so by dominating opponents.

This season, UConn is beating opponents by an average of 31.9 points per games, while AU leads Division II with a 33.9 margin of victory.

AU has set its fair share of records as far as winning streaks go having set four program records so far in 2016-17 relating to winning streaks.

The Eagles set a new record for overall winning streak. AU has won 37 straight, the previous record was 33 games set in the 2011-2012 season.

Auriemma is a legendary coach and has created a lasting legacy at the University of Connecticut. His coaching counterpart in the November exhibition matchup will be Robyn Fralick who has also started to create a legacy of her own in Ashland, OH.

Fralick is in her second year as the head coach of the Eagles and in her first season got off to what was unofficially the best start to a coaching career in Division II history by starting the year 21-0 before winning the national title in her second year.

The scene is set for the biggest tune-up game Ashland has ever participated in and there is no bigger test than taking on the powerhouse that is UConn.

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