By BRIAN LESTER
ASHLAND —- Before the University of Findlay women’s basketball team could even get settled in against rival Ashland University Thursday night, the Eagles had momentum firmly in their grasp.
Six 3-point shots went up and six 3-point shots went in as No. 1-ranked Ashland stormed out to a 20-0 lead and cruised to a 72-41 win over the Oilers in a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference South Division showdown.
The Eagles (18-0, 11-0 GLIAC) made 12 3-pointers in all and had five players in double figures en route to their 43rd consecutive win in the regular season.
Findlay (11-4, 8-3) had its five-game win streak snapped in the loss to the 2012 national runner-up.
“They are a really good team and they came out hitting from the outside,” Findlay head coach Kate Cummings said. “Our game plan was to deny the inside as much as possible. They hit their first six threes. They are a very balanced team. You have to pick your poison.”
Findlay was down 43-20 at the break and no one cracked double figures for the first time all year. Former Riverdale standout Kayla Brown and Alyssa Grevenkamp scored 8 points apiece to pace the Oilers, who shot 26.7 percent from the floor and were held to their lowest point total of the season.
The Oilers were only 4-of-23 from 3-point range and turned the ball over 16 times.
“I thought we panicked a bit when we got down,” Cummings said. “We have to be able to go inside and finish plays. Their physical play intimidated us a little bit, but you have to get the job done on the boards regardless of how physical a team is.”
Ashland held a 44-37 advantage on the boards but was outscored 20-16 in the paint.
It didn’t matter, though, as Lindsay Tenyak paced a balanced Eagles attack with 16 points. Alyssa Miller poured in 14 points and Taylor Woods scored 13 points.
Kari Daugherty dropped in 10 points and pulled down seven rebounds, although her NCAA-record streak of 34 consecutive double-doubles came to an end as she got injured late in the first half and did not return. But Daiva Gerbec did have a double-double, clicking for 12 points and grabbing 19 rebounds.
The Oilers typically force teams to consistently turn the ball over, having forced 343 on the year, but their pressure defense didn’t work against the Eagles, who only turned the ball over 14 times.
Ashland did a good job of working for open shots as it racked up 18 assists, including six from Miller.
The Oilers did get 25 points from their bench, but against the Eagles, it didn’t make a difference.
Still, even with a loss, the Oilers still have plenty to play for, including a potential home game in the conference tournament in March.
Findlay will look to bounce back Saturday on the road against Lake Erie College (3-10, 1-9), which lost 51-39 to Hillsdale College on Thursday night. The Oilers and Storm play at 3 p.m.
“You can take something from every game, and we just need to continue to get better,” Cummings said. “We are not going to focus on the loss. We have to get better as a team. Sometimes games expose things you need to address, and we’ll take that and get better for Saturday.”