The history of AU women’s basketball in the Final Four

Four trips, four wins for the Eagles in the Final four


Cade Cracas, Sports & Digital Editor

Ashland University’s women’s basketball team is no stranger to appearing in the Final Four of the NCAA Division II Postseason Tournament. In the history of the program, they’ve taken five trips to the Elite Eight, now five trips to the Final Four and four trips to the National Championship.

In their newest pathway to the tournament, the Eagles routed a 35-0 undefeated season under Head Coach Kari Pickens and will look to take on the defending National Champions in the Glenville State Pioneers.

While recent success is well known by those who follow the Eagles, the history of the team in the Final Four may not be.

Through four appearances, the Eagles are undefeated in the big game leading up to a National Championship appearance.


During the 2011-2012 season, the Eagles made their first appearance in the Elite Eight and beyond. Prior to this season, the program had not found success to this extent, putting its mark on Division II for years to come.

In the Final Four, the Eagles took up a tough opponent in Bentley after going 32-1 on the season up until that point. Bentley came into the two’s meetup at an overall record of 31-3. With two teams dominating D-II that season, it was bound to be a back-and-forth competitive matchup.

In the first half, the Eagles would go into halftime with a 38-30 lead over the Falcons. With forward Kari Daugherty (Pickens) dominating in the scoring column, the Eagles finished the half shooting a stellar 49% from the field. On the other side of things, the Falcons struggled shooting just 31% from the field and 23% from beyond the arc.

However, just like the first half, the Eagles would dominate with a final scoreline for Daugherty sitting at 31 points on 13-of-24 from the field. On top of her jaw-dropping point total, she would also haul in 22 rebounds for the Eagles, leading them to a 77-62, 15-point win.

Alongside her performance, guard Jena Stutzman knocked down 4-of-9 three-pointers to go alongside 22 points.

The team would finish the game shooting 50% from the field and 33% from beyond the arc while holding the Falcons to just 31% from both the field and beyond the arc.

Their victory would send them to the National Championship for the first time in program history.


This season saw just one loss for the Eagles, occurring on Valentine’s Day against the Findlay Oilers, en route to a 35-1 overall record heading into the Final Four.

In the Final Four, the Eagles would take on Western Washington.

Western Washington, known as the Vikings, came into the Final Four with a 29-3 overall record. Combined, both teams amassed a 64-4 overall record through the 2012-2013 season, showcasing the dominance in D-II.

However, when the game rolled around, the Eagles would be the more dominant team.

To start the game, the Eagles, led by Kari Daugherty once again, dominated scoring the opening baskets of the contest. While both teams battled back and forth, each team would have its own respective cold streaks over the span of the first 20 minutes. Heading into halftime, the Eagles would have a slight edge over the Vikings with a 10-point lead, 29-19.

The Vikings struggled with the Eagle defense thriving as they held them to just 25% from the field and 0% from beyond the arc on five attempts. With the Vikings now backpedaling and having to rebound at halftime, they would come out in the second half fast.

They came into the next 20 minutes scoring the first 12 of 16 points between the two sides. After the Vikings brought the game closer, the Eagles regained their footing and took back control of the contest. To finish the second half, the Eagles would outscore them 37-35 for a 66-54 victory. After a slow start offensively in the first half, both teams picked it up to finish the game strong.

The Eagles were led by Daugherty’s 24-point and 16-rebound game. Outside of her, there was just one other Eagle that helped exponentially offensively. Forward Daiva Gerbec recorded 19 points and 7 rebounds while shooting 7-of-13 from the field.

The Eagles would go on to win the National Championship that season against Downling, just a few days later.


During the 2016-2017 season, the Eagles were widely regarded as one of the best offenses in the country. With over 15 games finishing with over 100 points scored, the Eagles were bound to make another run for a National Championship, and that they did.

After downing West Texas A&M in the Elite Eight, the Eagles entered into the Final Four up against a tough competitor in the Harding Bisons.

The Bisons went up against the Eagles with a 31-3 overall record on the season.

Heading into the contest of the two, the biggest concern for the Bison would be the lack of offensive production they displayed in the NCAA tournament. Through four games, they were averaging roughly 64 points per game and in comparison, the Eagles were averaging 76.

When the two finally squared off against one another, Harding kept the contest close in the first quarter with the score finishing, 27-23. The Eagles shot an impressive 64% from the field to start. In the second quarter, the Eagles once again shined as they pulled away from the Bison heavily, outscoring them, 28-14.

With an 18-point lead established at halftime, it would be difficult for the Bison to bring the contest back with their season on the line.

In the third quarter, the Bison would not be able to find an ounce of footing as they were outscored 28-24 and their first break would not occur until the fourth quarter with the Eagles leading by 22 points.

Through the last 10 minutes, the Eagle offense hit a wall scoring just seven points while the Bison put up 16. Although the Eagles got outscored by nine in the fourth, it was not enough for the Bison as they fell by 13 points, 90-77.

The Eagles finished the game shooting 50% from the field and 46% from beyond the arc with five double-digit scorers. Those scorers would be; Laina Snyder with 25, Andi Daugherty with 23, Maddie Dackin with 14, Jodi Johnson with 13 and Kelsey Peare with 11. Outside of those five, the Eagles only got points from bench spark Julie Worley who recorded four.

The Eagles, while dominating D-II, would go on to win the National Championship against Virginia Union just days later in dominating fashion.


This season would be the last time until the 2022-2023 season that the Eagles appeared in the Elite Eight and beyond.

In the Elite Eight, the Eagles would take down Montana State Billings, with a 91-73 score to finish the game. After building up confidence in an 18-point win, they would move on to the Final Four to take on Indiana (Pa.).

The Indiana (Pa.) Crimson Hawks entered the contest against the Eagles with a 30-3 overall record, meaning that all four Final Four matchups the Eagles played saw the opponent losing exactly three games on the season.

The Crimson Hawks had a nailbiting opening match against Stonehill in the Elite Eight, just narrowly pulling out a 75-71 victory.

With the Eagles having a blowout win, and the Crimson Hawks having a close-knit contest, the Eagles were the heavy favorite entering into the game.

To start, the Eagles outscored the Crimson Hawks 26-15, taking an early 11-point lead. One of the big separating factors was the Crimson Hawks sending the Eagles to the free throw line four times, as the Eagles took away seven points in those trips. In the second 10 minutes of the game, the Crimson Hawks settled things down and were outscored by just one point, 16-15.

Heading into halftime, the deficit sat at 12, with the Eagles leading 42-30 over the Crimson Hawks.

With momentum needing to shift for the Crimson Hawks if they wanted to find their spot in the National Championship, the Eagles just stepped on the gas, even more, blowing out their opponent by 24 points to finish the game.

The Eagles finished shooting 51% from the field while going 19-of-22 from the charity stripe. For the Crimson Hawks, they shot just 37% from the field and 25% from beyond the arc.

The leading scorers in the game were Laina Snyder and Andi Daugherty who combined for 44 of Ashland’s 92 points.

Their success only lasted so long as the program’s 73-game win streak would end just one game later against Central Missouri in the National Championship.

Overview of Final Four appearances: 4-0

2011-2012: vs. Bentley, 77-62 victory. Lost in National Championship vs. Shaw, 88-82

2012-2013: vs. Western Washington, 66-54. Won the National Championship vs. Dowling, 71-56

2016-2017: vs. Harding, 90-77. Won the National Championship vs. Virginia Union, 93-77

2017-2018: vs. Indiana (Pa.), 92-68. Lost in National Championship vs. Central Missouri, 66-52

2022-2023: vs. Glenville State, TBD