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Basketball advances to GLIAC Semi-Finals

Ashland+University+Cedarville+University+during+college+women%27s+basketball+action+Friday%2C+Nov.+11%2C+2016+at+Kates+Gymnasium.+Photo%2FTom+E.+Puskar
Ashland University Cedarville University during college women's basketball action Friday, Nov. 11, 2016 at Kates Gymnasium. Photo/Tom E. Puskar

Ashland University Cedarville University during college women's basketball action Friday, Nov. 11, 2016 at Kates Gymnasium. Photo/Tom E. Puskar

Ashland University Cedarville University during college women's basketball action Friday, Nov. 11, 2016 at Kates Gymnasium. Photo/Tom E. Puskar

Noah Cloonan

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The Ashland University women’s team has completed the best regular season in school history as they finished a perfect 28-0. This is the first time the Eagles have gone undefeated in the regular season and their 20-0 conference record is also the best regular season record in GLIAC history. 

Ashland dominated opponents as they showcased the best offense in the country averaging 96.6 points per game and defeating  opponents by an average of over 34 points per game. Both of these numbers were not only the best marks in division II, but they led all NCAA divisions. 

Ashland scored over 100 points 11 times this season which shattered the previous school record of two times in a season. Ashland has been led all season by their dynamic duo of junior forwards, Laina Snyder and Andi Daugherty. 

Snyder leads the team averaging 17.7 points per game and pulling down just under 10 rebounds per game while Daugherty is second on the team averaging 14.8 ppg and 5.5 rebounds per game. 

The two have led the team all season in scoring but they have not done so without the help from the rest of the team. AU has five players who average double digit scoring figures each game and they lead the country in field goal shooting percentage, shooting at a rate of 51.9%. 

AU completed the regular season as the top team in the country and also won the GLIAC regular season title as well as winning the GLIAC South division title. But the work for the Eagles is not done as it is in fact just beginning as they embark on their quest for the school’s second national championship. 

“We break up the season into segments all year long,” head coach Robyn Fralick said. “Non conference, the GLIAC North, the GLIAC South, the second time through the South, and you have to do that because the season if you look at it as a whole is really, really big and so now we are in the next part of our season which is the GLIAC tournament.”

The women drew a first round matchup with the Walsh Cavaliers, a team they had already played twice during the regular season and one of two teams to beat the Eagles in 2016. 

Round three of the Eagles versus the Cavaliers went to the Eagles as they swept Walsh in a dominating fashion. The Eagles won the third matchup, 91-63 as they will move on to the GLIAC semifinals which will take place on March 4th. 

With the win the Eagles secured home court advantage throughout the rest of the GLIAC Tournament. The Eagles will be up against a familiar foe as the Michigan Tech Huskies will be their semifinal opponent after they defeated Ohio Dominican 82-66.

This will be the second time this season that the Huskies will be headed to Ashland and in the first game they give the Eagles all they could handle as they pushed them to the limit before finally caving to the Eagles, 82-75. Morgan Anderson lit up the scoreboard as she scored 29 points on 8-14 shooting from behind the arc. Elizabeth Kelliher poured in 21 points for the Huskies.

Michigan Tech led 24-20 at the end of the first quarter before being outscored 27-19 in the second quarter. The game stayed close throughout the third as the Eagles held just a one point lead heading into the final quarter of play. 

The Huskies held a 68-67 lead before the Eagles took over and never looked back. 

Snyder and Daugherty combined for 36 points as they helped the Eagles stay unbeaten. 

It will be a tough matchup for the Eagles as they will look to stay undefeated and advance to the championship game on March 5th. 

The other side of the bracket will feature the No. 2 seed Saginaw Valley State Cardinals taking on the No. 3 seed Grand Valley State Lakers. 

Ashland defeated the Cardinals 101-50 in their lone meeting of the season and they also beat the Lakers 75-61 in their lowest scoring effort of the season. 

Ashland is currently ranked No. 1 in the region as well and are in line to host the regional tournament on March 10, 11 and 13. 

If the Eagles are to advance to the Elite Eight they will play on March 21-22 with the National Championship game be held on March 24 in Columbus, OH.  

For the AU men’s basketball team, it has been a bit of a different story this season. The men opened the season 6-1 before losing five of the next six games. 

The men recovered however and won seven straight games, putting themselves in prime position to make the GLIAC tournament. After dropping two road games against Ohio Dominican and Hillsdale, the Eagles won three out of their last four games to improve their record to 17-9 and earned themselves the sixth seed in the tournament. 

Ashland drew a first round matchup with Lake Superior State Lakers. Earlier in the year, the Eagles defeated the Lakers 95-87 in an offensive shootout on the road. Adrian Cook and Ben Haraway led the Eagles as they combined for 50 points in the contest and led the Eagles to their first conference win of the season. 

On Feb. 28th the Eagles traveled to the Upper Peninsula for their second battle with the Lakers and came out on top, 84-81. AU trailed 43-42 at the half before battling back from down six points with 15 minutes to go in the second half. 

Boo Osborne and Phil Frentsos iced the game in the final minutes by knocking down three big free throws and helping the Eagles to move on in the GLIAC tournament. 

With the win, the Eagles will be matched up with the Findlay Oilers in the semifinals. 

This will be the third matchup between these two teams this season. The Eagles were victorious in the first meeting in Kate’s Gymnasium, 86-65. Haraway and Osborne combined for 43 points in the win as the Eagles shot 58.9% from the field. The script was flipped when the Eagles traveled to Findlay and were beaten, 85-65. 

Martyce Kimbrough scored 29 points for the Oilers on 10-23 shooting from the field. The Eagles never were able to get things going as they shot 44.6% from the field and were outscored 54-36 in the second half. 

The GLIAC semifinals will be the rubber match between these two schools and it will be played on a neutral court as the No. 1 seeded Ferris State Bulldogs will be the host of the remainder of the tournament. 

Cook and Osborne have both eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for their careers this season and lead the Eagles in scoring at 14.1 ppg and 12.3 ppg respectively. 

Both Cook and Osborne were named to the All-GLIAC second team for their performances this season and Osborne was named to the All-GLIAC defensive team.

Osborne will need that defense against the Oilers as Kimbrough comes into the game averaging 20.3 ppg. 

On the other side of the bracket, No. 1 seed Ferris State will be taking on the Michigan Tech Huskies who are the No. 4 seed. 

AU lost a tight game on the road against Ferris State earlier in the year as they fell 82-77. 

Michigan Tech also got the best of the Eagles earlier this year as they beat the Eagles 80-71 in Ashland. 

Tipoff for the semifinal game is set for 5 p.m. on March 4th. 

The GLIAC Championship will be March 5th at 3 p.m.

AU is currently unranked in the region and will most likely need to win the conference tournament in order to advance to the regional tournament.

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