Eagles outlast Lakers: Win second straight conference title

Noah Cloonan

History repeated itself Sunday afternoon inside Kate’s Gymnasium as the Ashland University Eagles won their second straight GLIAC championship over the Grand Valley State Lakers, 85-76.

The Lakers gave the Eagles their most difficult test of the season, but Ashland was able to hold on and come out on top to improve to a perfect 31-0 on the year.

The game opened up as a back and forth affair, before Kelsey Peare knocked down a three with 5:55 left in the first quarter giving the Eagles an 11-6 lead.

GVSU responded and used back to back layups by Piper Tucker to pull within one point of the Eagles at 13-12.

The teams played each other closely for the rest of the quarter before a three-point play by Cassidy Boensch gave GVSU a 22-21 with 1:00 minute left in the quarter. The Lakers held a 24-23 lead at the end of one, but the Eagles responded in the second quarter.

AU used a 25-point second quarter to grow their lead to seven entering the half.

The second half started just as the Eagles drew it up as they were able to get a stop and a Jodi Johnson triple gave the Eagles the double-digit lead.

GVSU quickly responded with a 7-0 run of their own as they closed the gap to three.

The rest of the third was tightly contested and with the Eagles up by six with 26 seconds to go, Tucker knocked down a three to bring the score to 64-61.

It was going to come down to whoever had the ball last in the final quarter of play and the fourth did not disappoint.  

AU scored to open up the quarter and extend their lead to five, but the Lakers responded with a 10-0 run to flip the script and grab a five-point lead.

Andi Daugherty hit two free throws with 3:03 to go to tie the game at 73. After Taylor Parmley hit a free throw to put the Lakers up 74-73, Daugherty responded with a layup to give the Eagles a lead that they would never relinquish.

Daugherty scored 10 of the final 12 points for the Eagles as they clinched their second straight championship and ensure their No. 1 spot in the region.

Daugherty finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds. Kelsey Peare had a big game for AU as well, scoring 16 points on 7-12 shooting.

Parmley led the way for the Lakers as she scored 18 points in the first half and finished with 25.

Head coach Robyn Fralick says that the accomplishment was a goal of theirs this season, but that now it is time to rest up and prepare for the NCAA tournament.

“You know what’s really special about this win, is this team has fought, they’ve battled, they’ve played hard, they’ve played together, they’ve just done it the right way,” Fralick said. “I’m just really proud of them.”

Daugherty had one of her best games of the year when it mattered most as she hit six free throws in the final minute to put the nail in the coffin.

“I think it was experience, I’m an upperclassman and I’ve been in a few of these games and honestly it was my Heavenly Father, he gave me some energy and I’m just so proud of everyone and I’m happy to bring home the championship,” Daugherty said.

Ashland finishes the GLIAC schedule with a undefeated record, as they prepare for the Regional tournament. The field for the regional tournament will be announced March 5 and play will begin on March 10.