Eagle women sneak past Pioneers in opening round of NCAA tournament

Heidemann drops 18 points, four three-pointers, leading Eagles to second round


AU Athletics

The Eagles prepare with a team huddle before a game.

Cade Cracas, Sports & Digital Editor

In the opening round of the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional Tournament, the Ashland University women’s basketball team squeaked past Great Midwest Athletic Conference (GMAC) rival in the Malone Pioneers by a score of 72-65.

The Eagles, who have taken on the Pioneers a total of four times this season, showcased offensive inconsistencies without starting point guard Morgan Yoder in the rotation.

To start the contest, the Eagles could not find a consistent offensive rhythm. Yoder was a late scratch to the contest, and in her place transfer guard Savaya Brockington took over the reins of the offense. Without Yoder, the Eagle offense opted to spread the court and utilize forward Annie Roshak on the wing, which had its struggles to start.

In the first quarter, the Eagle offense scored just 13 points. Luckily for them, the Pioneers’ offense scored just 11, keeping the lead with the home team heading into the next 1o minutes.

The Eagle offense was finally able to establish a pace they were comfortable with in the second quarter as they shot 54% from the field to outscore the Pioneers 20-12.

Heading into halftime with a nine-point lead, the Eagles still needed to make adjustments to separate themselves from their opponent.

Head Coach Kari Pickens was content with the offensive production without Yoder but was more focused on the team’s defense which impressed her.

“I thought defensively we put together a good first half. I am pleased with how we strung things together”, said Pickens. “With Yoder being out we needed to find a way to keep our best players on the court, and with Annie [Roshak] on the court, we can do that.”

In the second half, the Eagles came out of the gates quickly and mounted a 14-point lead within the first two minutes of the third quarter while going on a 7-0 run. After their run came to a close, the Pioneers quickly mounted their own run and held the Eagles to zero points over the course of three minutes while scoring eight of their own to bring the lead back down to six.

However, heading into the fourth quarter of play, the Pioneers trailed by 10 points as the Eagles would not allow the Pioneers to keep the contest close.

With both teams battling back and forth, guard Alexis Hutchison for the Pioneers tried willing her team to victory behind a 32-point, five assist and nine rebound performance, but was unable to single-handedly carry her team to the win.

In the end, the Eagles squeaked by with a 72-65 win as they advance to the second round of the Midwest postseason tournament.

The Eagles were led by Hallie Heidemann and her 18-point performance, and Roshak who knocked down eight free throws en route to a 16-point performance. As a whole, the team shot 46% from the field and 40% from beyond the arc.

They now look to take on the Trevecca Nazarene Trojans on Saturday, March 11, at 7:30 p.m. in Kates Gymnasium.