Ashland, Ohio - The Ferris State University women's basketball squad came up short in its quest for a 2012 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Tournament Championship as the Bulldogs suffered a 66-50 setback to nationally fourth-ranked Ashland on Sunday (March 4) at Kates Gymnasium.
FSU dropped to 22-6 overall with the setback in the tournament final, but is still expected to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional Tournament when the official announcement of the field is made on Sunday night at 10 p.m. (ET) at www.ncaa.com.
As the tournament champion, Ashland receives the league's automatic berth into the NCAA-II Tournament and is expected to host the eight-team regional March 9-12.
The Bulldogs battled the Eagles back and forth in the first half as FSU led by as many as five points only 3:14 into the game. AU climbed back to take a 30-27 halftime advantage.
In the second half, though, Ashland limited FSU to only 29% (9-31) shooting in outscoring Ferris State 36-23 over the final 20 minutes.
The Bulldogs trailed by five points with 15:44 to play before AU seized control with a 15-2 run to take a 18-point edge with 10:20 remaining. Ferris State cut the margin to 11 points with 5:42 left, but could get no closer.
With the win, Ashland improved to 28-1 overall and increased its unbeaten streak to 28 consecutive games. It was the Eagles' 19th-straight home win dating back to last season and came before a crowd of 1,112 fans.
The 2012 GLIAC Player of the Year Kari Daugherty led the Eagles with 17 points and 17 rebounds while Lindsay Tenyak added 14 points. Jena Stutzman had 14 points and Ashley Dorner finished with 11 points.
Ferris State was paced by sophomore forward Nikki Arner (Ludington), who finished with 13 points. She was the lone FSU player to reach double-figure scoring.
"I'm proud of our kids for battling and they've done that all year," said FSU head coach Tracey Dorow. "It was an even game at halftime and they played well in the second half. The key now is to bounce back and be ready to play in the NCAA Tournament."
The victory was the second for Ashland this season over FSU following a 66-56 regular-season win in Big Rapids at Wink Arena on Feb. 11. AU claimed the GLIAC South Division Championship while FSU was the winner of the North Division.
The Bulldogs finished shooting only 35% for the game and were able to make only three-of-23 (13%) three's. FSU was five-of-seven (71.4%) at the free throw line.
Meanwhile, Ashland shot 47.1% (24-51) for the afternoon and hit nine-of-23 (39.1%) three-pointers in addition to a nine-of-10 (90%) effort at the charity stripe.
Both teams finished with 34 rebounds although Ashland outscored FSU 14-11 in second chance production despite the fact FSU had 15 offensive boards to only nine for the visitors.
AU also held a 17-6 advantage in points off turnovers as the Eagles forced 10 Bulldog turnovers while totaling only nine miscues of their own.
Ferris State posted a 28-14 advantage inside the paint and totaled nine assists, six steals and two blocked shots. AU finished with 18 assists, seven steals and three blocks in the outing.
Bulldog sophomore guard Sarah DeShone (Elkhart, Ind./Jimtown) finished with nine points and five assists for FSU in the losing cause while senior guard Tricia Principe (Kalamazoo/Mattawan) added nine points, four rebounds and two steals. FSU also received eight points and nine boards by freshman forward Christina Branch (Grand Rapids/West Michigan Lutheran).
The loss was the third in three GLIAC Tournament title game appearances for the Bulldogs, who reached the league final for the first time since 2004.
DeShone and Branch both received GLIAC All-Tournament Team honors for the runner-up Bulldogs while AU's Stutzman and Daugherty were part of the five-member team along with Michigan Tech's Lindsey Lindstrom. Daugherty claimed MVP honors.
Official matchups and game times for the NCAA-II Tournament will be announced following tonight's announcement of the regional field.