How to Watch

Saturday’s AU vs. Minnesota-Duluth Division II national championship game at 3:30 p.m. will be broadcast on the CBS Sports Network. Check your cable or streaming packages to find out if you have that channel. If you type in your zip code at this link, it will tell you the channel to find. That is channel 322 on Spectrum’s cable package in Ashland.

ASHLAND — Savaya Brockington has been working to sharpen her skills on the basketball floor for 15 years.

In that time Brockington, a junior point guard for Ashland University, has played in hundreds of scrimmages and games — through youth leagues, middle school, high school, college. Through blood, bruises and tears. She’s seen defeat; she’s tasted victory.

It’s all added up to the most important game of her career thus far: the NCAA Division II women’s basketball national championship. Brockington and her undefeated, No. 1-ranked teammates face University of Minnesota-Duluth on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in Dallas, Texas.

It’s a shot at the national title that attracted Brockington to Ashland’s program. The Purdue Northwest transfer recalled her conversation with head coach Kari Pickens the day she traveled from Indiana to tour the school.

“That day, in her office, she said ‘our goal is to win a national championship, and we’re on the brink of that.’ ”

It all happened so fast, she remembered. The call from Pickens came on a Tuesday. The trip to Ashland happened Wednesday. That same afternoon, in mid-August 2022, she committed.

In AU’s first game against Wayne State, the 5-foot-4 guard played 15 minutes and scored two points, collected two rebounds and dished two assists. She had four steals. As the season progressed, so did her confidence.

Savaya Brockington jump shot.JPG

She now starts as the team’s point guard and averages 9.1 points per game, along with three assists and about three rebounds. Her percentage from the field is a solid 43.1% and a stellar 84.5% from the free-throw line. She can also shoot threes — her percentage from beyond the arc is 39.1%.

Even better, in two of the past three games Brockington has been dynamite when the Eagles needed her most.

In a grind-it-out affair against Grand Valley State, the quick-silver point guard scored seven quick points in the first quarter to get her team off to a good start. Then she helped AU overcome a six-point halftime deficit with a traditional three-point play to open the third quarter of the regional championship game, and Ashland was on its way to a victory.

In the Final Four, she had a sensational performance against the relentless Glenville State Pioneers, who deployed a scrappy full-court press the entire game. Even with that, Brockington committed only three turnovers while scoring 16 points and delivering six assists.

Savaya Brockington slices through the defense.JPG

Brockington’s statistics don’t mean as much to her as being a stalwart leader, though. She said bringing energy, staying positive in intense moments and protecting the ball has been her focus for the Eagles.

“That was the biggest thing for me, knowing my role isn’t defined necessarily in all the tangible things, but bringing non-tangibles to the court and being that presence,” she said.

Those non-tangibles are typically seen on her face during a game — whether it be a grimace as she barrels to the hoop for a layup or in a wide smile during a quick team huddle after a whistle.

Savaya Brockington surveys the defense.JPG

“That’s something I’ve always had. But being here at Ashland, I feel like it’s gotten amped up even more. Just the environment and the team of coaches, it just makes it so much easier to embrace that. And it’s just so much fun — just all smiles 24/7,” Brockington said.

Saturday’s focus, for Brockington?

“Playing Ashland women’s basketball really well for 40 minutes straight. I think that’s been the common theme, just doing ‘us’ really well, sticking to our principals, sticking to the gameplan in order to come out with a win. So I have all the faith and all the confidence that we’re capable,” she said.

Yes, a common theme indeed. At 36-0, it is something that fans and spectators have come to expect. So how does she deal with the pressure?

“Pressure either makes diamonds or busts pipes,” she said.

Brockington acknowledged her nerves, saying it’d be crazy to say she wasn’t nervous heading into the her team’s biggest game yet.

“But I’m more nervous going into, like, shoot-arounds and stuff like that. But then once the game comes around, I’m not nervous,” Brockington said.

When the ball bounces on that familiar wooden floor, it’s tunnel vision. Game on.

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