Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University women's basketball team gave nationally top-ranked Ashland all it could handle in the second half before coming out on the short end of a 72-62 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) decision on Saturday (Dec. 1) afternoon at AU's Kates Gymnasium in Ashland, Ohio.
The Eagles, who reached the national championship game a season ago, won the battle of preseason divisional favorites to remain unbeaten at 8-0 overall this season and 2-0 in GLIAC action. FSU fell to 2-3 overall and 1-1 in league competition.
Ashland led by as many as 20 points with 2:19 to go in the opening half and held a 15-point edge at halftime against the Bulldogs, who have battled injuries early this season and are missing several key pieces from a team ranked among the nation's top 25 squads in preseason polls.
Despite the setbacks, however, the Bulldogs fought back and cut Ashland lead's down to as few as four points with 8:34 remaining in the contest on a basket bay sophomore center Hannah Hoffman (Okemos). The Eagles answered though by scoring seven consecutive points and 15 of the next 18 overall to push the advantage back to 16 points with four minutes remaining.
Again, FSU battled back and pulled back to 10 points on a three-pointer from junior forward Ashley Rando (Jackson/Northwest) with 19 seconds to play to account for the final score.
The contest pitted the two defending league divisional champions as AU claimed the GLIAC South crown a year ago while FSU won the GLIAC North. The Eagles won two close matchups over Ferris State last year in regular-season play and the league tournament championship contest.
Ferris State, which was playing only its second league tilt under first-year head coach Colleen Lamoreaux-Tate, shot only 37.9% in the opening half but came back to finish at 40% shooting for the day. Ashland finished at 43.5% shooting after cooling off to 39% over the final 20 minutes.
The Bulldogs were able to climb back into the game in the second half by not only shooting the ball better, but also with a defensive zone that helped forced 11 Ashland turnovers on the day and pick up some key stops in the final half.
Junior guard Sarah DeShone (Elkhart, Ind./Jimtown) led the Bulldogs with a game-high 20 points in the contest and added eight rebounds with two assists and two steals. She had 12 points in the second half of the game.
FSU also received 14 points, four rebounds and two steals from Rando in addition to 12 points and 10 boards by Hoffman in a double-double effort. The Bulldog center also had two assists and blocked three shots.
Besides the three players to reach double-digits, the Bulldogs also received a nice contribution from sophomore forward Kara Hess (Grand Rapids/Grandville), who played only her second contest of the season and joined the Bulldogs on the trip after competing with the FSU women's volleyball team in the NCAA Midwest Regional Semifinals on Friday night in Indianapolis. Hess had eight points and seven rebounds with a team-high three assists and a steal in 28 minutes of action.
Senior guard Kylie Muntz (Dayton, Ohio) also had eight points for the Bulldogs and added four rebounds in a return to her home state.
Ferris State connected on six-of-10 (60%) three's along with eight-of-13 (61.5%) free throws compared to AU's five-of-19 (26.3%) three's and seven-of-nine (77.8%) makes at the free throw stripe.
Ashland had four players reach double-figure scoring. Senior Daiva Gerbec, who missed all of last season due to injury, scored a team-high 18 points to lead the Eagles, who return all but a single starter from last year's national runner-up squad. Alyssa Miller added 13 points while Taylor Woods scored 12 points.
AU also received 12 points and a game-high 19 rebounds from reigning GLIAC Player of the Year Kari Daughterty as she recorded her 25th-straight double-double game. The Bulldogs made her work for her points as she finished five-of-19 from the floor and missed all four of her three-point tries.
Overall, Ashland owned a 44-38 rebounding edge and came away with 12 offensive boards to nine for the Bulldogs, which led to a slim 13-11 margin in second chance scoring. AU also outscored FSU 18-14 in the paint and 19-15 in points off turnovers as FSU had 15 miscues in the contest. Ashland also totaled 21 assists and seven steals with FSU netting nine assists and six thefts.
The Bulldogs will return to action next week at FSU's Jim Wink Arena. FSU hosts Ohio Dominican in its first league home game on Thursday, Dec. 6, at 8 p.m. (ET) and will then square off against Tiffin at home in league play on Saturday, Dec. 8, beginning at 3 p.m. (ET).