The history of Eagle women’s basketball in the Elite Eight

Four Elite Eight appearances, four wins

AU Athletics

Archive taken from, 2012 Elite Eight

Cade Cracas, Sports & Digital Editor

The Ashland University women’s basketball team has always had tremendous success in the 21st century by making waves in the NCAA Division II scene.

Since appearing in the Elite Eight four times in an eight-year span from 2011-2018, the Eagles took a five-year break from playing deeper in March. However, in the 2022-2023 season, the Eagles routed an undefeated record and will once again dance in the Elite Eight.

2011-2012 Season: 33-2

The Eagles first initially appeared in the Elite Eight during the 2011-2012 season, led by Ohio Hall of Fame Head Coach, Sue Ramsey. During their miraculous run, the Eagles entered the final three games of the season with a 31-1 record and a No. 2 seed placement. In the Elite Eight, they took on the University of Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves who went 30-4 on the season.

This would be no easy task for the Eagles, but with consistency being a factor for the offense, they shot 43% from the field and 63% from beyond the arc in the first half of play. They outscored the Seawolves, by nine points for a 32-23 lead.

In the second half, the Eagles finished off the game with ease as they dominated shooting a stellar 55% from the field and 50% from beyond the arc, outscoring the Seawolves by 11 through the last 20 minutes. Their win ended one of the Seawolves’ best seasons in program history with a final score of 71-51.

For the Eagles, this was their first-ever Elite Eight appearance, and they won it.

2012-2013 Season: 37-1

After winning in the Elite Eight the previous season, but falling just short of securing the program’s first national championship, Coach Ramsey had a fire under her belt and unleashed it all onto the Division II women’s basketball scene. Heading into the NCAA Postseason, the Eagles had just one loss coming on Valentine’s Day to the Findlay Oilers, a conference rival, by a score of 66-51.

With a loss out of the way, the Eagles were able to solely focus on playing to win a national championship, not a perfect record. In their opening Elite Eight round, the Eagles were set to take on the Gannon University Golden Knights. The Golden Knights were red-hot in the 2012-2013 season, amassing a 31-4 overall record.

These two teams had prior history against one another as earlier in the season the Eagles downed the Golden Knights 70-59 in the two teams’ second contest of the campaign. The contest finishing with an 11-point deficit would be a preview to the season-ending loss the Golden Knights would take to the Eagles in the Elite Eight.

In that contest, both squads went back and forth after the opening tip, with the Golden Knights taking the edge up by six at halftime. The Eagles struggled shooting just 37% from the field and 19% from beyond the arc.

Heading into the second half, the team needed to recompose themselves, and that they did. They shot 49% from the field and 50% from three-point range while going 13-of-16 from the charity stripe. Those 180-degree-like shooting numbers in the second half propelled the Eagles to a 49-32 second-half performance, closing out the game with a 74-63 scoreline.

After squeaking by with a win, the Eagles would not struggle for the remainder of the tournament and secure a National Championship.

2016-2017 Season: 37-0

The 2016-2017 season will go down as the greatest season in Eagle basketball history. After a perfect regular season, a perfect conference tournament and a perfect regional tournament, the Eagles headed into the Elite Eight up against a West Texas A&M team that had its ups and downs.

West Texas A&M had a 26-8 record, losing seven during the regular season and being eliminated in the semi-final round of their conference tournament. However, when the bright lights were on them in the South Region Tournament, they won three straight, downing the No. 5 seed and upsetting the No. 1 and 2-seeded teams.

Even after building up confidence in the South Region, the Eagles quickly diminished that in their Elite Eight bout.

To start, the Eagles outscored the Buffs, 23-11 in the first quarter of play. Although the Buffs set themselves back early, the Eagles took their foot off the gas and the Buffs stormed back into the game with a 21-point quarter in the second quarter.

The score at halftime sat with the Eagles leading 41-32 while shooting 59% from the field and going 2-of-5 from downtown.

In the second half, the Eagles started off strong shooting 59% from the field while scoring the first eight points of the third quarter, and looked as though they were going to run away with the game. However, that would not be the case as the Eagles hit a wall in the fourth quarter shooting just 2-of-12 from the field, opening up the door for the Buffs to bring the contest closer.

Unfortunately for the Buffs, foul trouble down the stretch would give the Eagles a staggering 16 free throws, making 14 of them to finish off an 82-67 win, punching their ticket to the next round.

The Eagles would then go on to complete the undefeated and perfect season, winning the National Championship while posting over 80 points per game in the final three games of the season.

2017-2018 Season: 36-1

After winning the National Championship for the second time in program history the season prior, the Eagles were gearing up for a repeat. They waltzed their way through the regular season, conference tournament and Midwest Regional Tournament while recording 19 100+ point games as one of the best offensive teams in the country.

Heading into the Elite Eight, their opponent, Montana State University Billings, was a team that was nearly the complete opposite of them in the regular season going 19-11. In conference play, they went just 12-8 and entered their conference tournament as a No. 4 seed. They would go through the tournament taking down the No. 5, No. 3 and No. 1 seeds, securing a conference championship.

After securing a berth into the NCAA Tournament as the No. 7 seed, the Yellowjackets upset the No. 2 seed in the opening round, No. 3 seed in the semi-finals and the No. 5 seed in the West Region championship.

The Yellowjackets then entered the Elite Eight for just their second time in program history, breaking a 19-year streak of not appearing in such.

The Eagles most certainly would have a tough team to go up against, whether or not their regular season record showed it.

In the two teams’ Elite Eight matchup, the Yellowjackets kept the game close, 22-18 at the end of 10 minutes. In the second quarter, slight separation would occur as the Eagles outscored them 28-22, leading by ten points heading into the halftime break.

However, the Yellowjackets would no go away quietly as they bounced back in the third quarter bringing the contest within seven points heading into the final 10 minutes of the contest.

In the fourth quarter, the Eagles shut down any hopes of moving on to the Final Four for the Yellowjackets as they held them to just 12 points while scoring 23 to close out the 91-73 stifling victory.

After winning in the Elite Eight, the Eagles then dominated Indiana University of Pennsylvania 92-68 before falling to Central Missouri in the National Championship, falling just short of back-to-back undefeated seasons.

That loss not only ended their season but ended a program-long 73-game win streak.

Elite Eight Appearances: 4-0 record

2011-2012: vs. Alaska-Anchorage4 71-51 victory. Later fell to Shaw in National Championship, 88-82 in OT.

2012-2013: vs. Gannon5 74-63 victory. Later defeated Dowling in National Championship, 71-56.

2016-2017: vs. West Texas A&M5 82-67 victory. Later defeated Virginia Union in National Championship,93-77.

2017-2018: vs. Montana St.-Billings5 91-73 victory. Later fell to Central Missouri in National Championship, 66-52.

2022-2023: vs. UT Tyler TBD

Fun Facts

  • From Nov. 11, 2016, to March 21, 2018, the Eagles won 73 straight games. During that time, the team was able to secure two Elite Eight victories.
  • Current Head Coach Kari Pickens played for the Eagles in the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 Elite Eight matchups and coached the Eagles as an assistant in the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 Elite Eight appearances. Now as the head coach, she will lead the Eagles into the fifth Elite Eight appearance in program history.
  • In the 2016-2017 perfect season, the Eagles kicked off the season with an exhibition to Division I Ohio State, falling by just nine points, 88-79.
  • In the 2017-2018 near-perfect season, the Eagles kicked off the season yet again against Ohio State, this time getting dominated by 30 points in a 110-80 loss. That year they also took on Division I powerhouse University of Connecticut, known as U Conn, who beat them 119-56.