The Eagles head to National Championship after taking down Glenville State

AU beats the Pioneers, 76-67


The Eagles stand at center court to celebrate their win in the Final Four against Glenville State

Cade Cracas, Sports & Digital Editor

The Ashland University women’s basketball team just cannot stop winning in the Final Four of the NCAA Division II Tournament as the Eagles took down the reigning National Champions, 76-67.

After taking down UT Tyler in the Elite Eight, it would be no tough task for the Eagles to beat the fast-paced Glenville State Pioneers.

“They are going to press from start to finish and make you play really fast. We are going to need to take care of the ball well,” said Eagles’ Head Coach Kari Pickens.

Unfortunately for the Eagles, they were unable to handle the ball in the ways they wanted to as they started the game with eight turnovers in the first quarter of play. Although they had a handful of turnovers, they finished the quarter leading by three, 17-14.

In the second quarter, the Eagles really started to adjust to that fast-paced playstyle the Pioneers have utilized all season long as the team started to find its footing. They were able to outscore the Pioneers at a 24-13 margin, sending themselves into halftime up by 14 points.

Guard Savaya Brockington led the way for the team as she recorded eight points while dishing off five assists. What made her performance even more impressive was her playing through an ankle injury. At times, she would even grit her teeth in pain while running up and down the court.

“The toughness and selflessness she showed, showed how much of a team player she is,” said guard Hallie Heidemann.

Alongside Heidemann, forward Annie Roshak was impressed with the determination shown.

“I was taking out the ball one time and I said ‘dang you have to work so hard to get open and I am so thankful that you guys are willing to work to do whatever it takes,” said Roshak. “The fight that they have and how hard they work for the team resembles the saying that the strength of the team makes the team.”

In the second half, the Eagles continued to work their way out of the full-court press and started the third quarter on a 6-0 run to put themselves up by 20 points.

After that though, the Eagles would score just six points through the rest of the quarter while allowing 17. Pioneer guard Breanna Campbell shined scoring eight of the 17 points. While the Pioneers brought the contest’s margin down to single digits, the Eagles still led by nine points heading into the final 10 minutes.

With the final 10 minutes finally underway and the season on the line, the Pioneers would not go away. The deficit between the two sides always favored the Eagles, but the Pioneers brought it back within four points multiple times. For the Eagles, they continued to relentlessly push the lead forward and would not allow their opponent to get any close than that four-point differential.

In the end, foul trouble for the Pioneers plagued them down the stretch as the Eagles made eight points from the charity stripe. Alongside the free throws, Roshak’s leadership and confidence played a big part in the Eagles holding their own.

“I really love to win, I am not going to lie. [I’ll be] Doing whatever the team needs, but I know that in crunch time I am going to do whatever it takes to win,” she said. “I love being the fire and being able to help when I can.”

She would record seven points on 3-of-3 from the field and go 1-of-2 from the free-throw line over the course of the final five minutes of the contest. The Eagles, while shooting 49% from the field and 36% from beyond the arc, held the Pioneers to just 34% from the field and 24% from three-point range.

The Eagles were led by Roshak who recorded 17 points and 10 rebounds, while counterpart Hayley Smith added on 15 points and 16 rebounds in the victory. Guards Hallie Heidemann and Savaya Brockington combined for 29 points, 14 assists and 13 rebounds, showcasing how on-the-ball the Eagle starters were.

They next look to travel to Dallas on April 1 for the D-II National Championship where they will face up against the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs.

“With our current team, our team is banged up and our players fought through it,” said Pickens. “I am hoping with the 10-day break and extra preparation our girls will be able to be healthy and ready to go.”