Eagles to play for National Championship

Noah Cloonan

After a long and hard season, the Eagles will have one final game: The National Championship.

Ashland advanced to the championship game after defeating Harding University 90-77 in the Final Four as they improved to a perfect 36-0 on the season.

For the second straight game, AU got down early as Harding got out to a strong start, 5-2. The Eagles battled back and went back and forth with the Bison tying the game seven times in the first eight minutes of the game.

With the score knotted at 19, freshmen Jodi Johnson hit a three followed by a layup from Andi Daugherty put the Eagles on top 24-19 and they never trailed again.

The Bison did not go anywhere as they kept the game close, 36-32 before the Eagles put their foot down and started to pull away.

Ashland went on a 19-5 run to close out the second quarter, highlighted by three triples from Maddie Dackin, to push their halftime lead to 55-37.

In the second half, the Eagles continued to pull away as they extended their lead to 28 with 4:22 left in the third.

AU led 83-61 going into the fourth.

The Bison tried to fight back in the final quarter as they scored the first eight points to bring the lead back under 15 at 83-69.

The Eagles were able to hold off the furious attack of the Bison despite scoring just seven points in the fourth quarter.

Laina Snyder led the Eagles in scoring for the second straight game as she had 25 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

Daugherty backed up her strong performance in the Elite Eight with another 20 point game as she finished with 23 points and four rebounds.

Dackin, a sophomore, came off the bench for AU and went 4-5 from behind the arc on her way to a 14 point game.

Caroline Hogue led the Bison with 24 points.

AU advances to the National Championship for the third time in school history.

The Eagles won it all in 2013 after finishing as runner up in 2012.

Ashland will start preparing for their opponent Virginia Union who defeated California Baptist 86-81 in the other semifinal game.

The National Championship will take place on Friday at 7 p.m.