The 2023 Division II Women’s Basketball Final Four between AU and Glenville State tips off at 9:30 p.m. EDT.
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — If the Ashland University women’s basketball team had a theme for Tuesday’s off-day workout it was ball security.
Top-ranked AU (35-0) will play defending Division II champ Glenville (W.Va.) State (32-2) in the national semifinals at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday at the St. Joseph Civic Arena.
If the Eagles are to reach the championship game for the first time since 2018, they will have to protect the ball better than they did in Monday’s 81-72 quarterfinal win over Texas-Tyler. Ashland turned the ball over 19 times against the Patriots, resulting in 22 points.
“We struggled with turnovers to start the year. As of late we’ve been a lot better,” AU coach Kari Pickens said. “We didn’t take care of the ball particularly well.
“We had some unforced turnovers, even an outlet where the ball went through our hands. But we still found a way to win.”
Glenville (33-2) advanced with a 78-68 win over Tampa in the fourth of Tuesday’s four quarterfinal games. The Pioneers forced 26 turnovers which led to 30 points. Those numbers are par for the course for Glenville. The Pioneers force 27.3 turnovers a game and score 30.3 points off opponents’ turnovers.
While the Eagles struggled to take care of the ball against Tyler, they shot it with remarkable efficiency. Ashland shot 55 percent from the floor and an even 50 percent from beyond the 3-point arc (13-for-26). AU connected on its first seven field goal attempts.
Pickens’ squad led by as many as 16 points in the third quarter as sophomore forward Zoe Miller bounced off the bench to score 15 points, all in the second half. The Bowling Green transfer knocked down 3-of-5 3-pointers.
“I’d say it’s really important,” Miller said of her ability to stretch the defense. “Especially when they double … just being shot-ready at the top of the key is very important.”
AU’s sharpshooting from perimeter eventually opened things up for Annie Roshak and Hayley Smith. Roshak scored 14 of her game-high 24 points in the second half, while Smith added six points.
“We started getting some post touches in the second half,” Pickens said. “That doesn’t happen unless we space the court with some 3s. That makes a huge difference.”
Glenville State is led by guard Breanna Campbell, who scored 28 points and grabbed nine rebounds in Tuesday’s win over Tampa. The 5-foot-5 junior averages a team-best 18.2 points a game and has 71 steals, while Mickayla Perdue averages 17.6 points a night. Hya Haywood averages 10.2 a game and leads the team with 74 steals.
Pickens knows what to expect Wednesday evening.
“Glenville State is going to press from start to finish. They make you play really fast,” Pickens said. “Taking care of the ball is going to be huge with them.”
NOTES: Wednesday will mark the first time that Glenville State has faced Ashland University.
— In five straight games the Lady Pioneers have hit nine or more threes.
— For the second time in the program’s history GSU has reached back-to-back Final Fours.
— With the 78-68 quarterfinal upset of Tampa, Glenville has now won 18 straight.
— Both teams rank in the top five in the nation in offense.
— Ashland enters Wednesday night’s contest as the only remaining unbeaten team in Division II.
— The Eagles are averaging 83.9 points per game which is third in the country.
— 63.3%: Ashland’s Annie Roshak has the third best field goal percentage in the country.
— 49.5%: AU’s Hallie Heidemann has been one the best three point shooters for the eagles and ranks second in the country for three point percentage.
— 24.7: Ashland ranks first in all of Division II for scoring margin.
— 1.46: Typically, the Eagles commit few turnovers, they have the best assist-to-turnover ratio in the nation. However, in the win over Tyler, Ashland suffered 19 turnovers while distributing 18 assists.