Fifty-eight straight games. The Ashland women's basketball team — who last lost in March of 2016 — has broken yet another record in its historic run. By defeating Wayne State 101-84 Thursday night in Detroit, Mich., the Eagles now own the longest winning streak in the history of DII basketball — men's or women's.
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It's the fifth longest winning streak across all three NCAA divisions. The next target is win No. 61, which would surpass DIII SUNY Potsdam men's record 60-game winning streak set way back in 1987.
"The thing about the record and the streak that I like to share is that it's much less about the number, but much more about the story of the why and the people," head coach Robyn Fralick told NCAA.com after Thursday's win. "Just the mission. It's been a group of people over a long time that decided to put the team first. That part as a coach has been really rewarding and meaningful."
It's not simply the fact that Ashland is winning games. It's how it is doing it. Seemingly every night, a new Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference or program record is broken, and 100-point performances have become the norm. The Eagles have broken the century mark 23 times, 21 more times than the Washburn women's basketball team who owned the 51-game record Ashland has since shattered. Since the calendar flipped to December, the Eagles have scored 100 points or more 10 times.
In 14 tries.
"That's what we talk about a lot," Fralick said. "It's about the pursuit of a 40-minute game. From watching film at the beginning of the season to watching film now, we know we've gotten better. Yet, we know, that's our continued path, that we continue to develop and grow as a team.
"We have a team that decided to put the team first. Period. It's not about individual accolades, it's really about being part of a team. That's fun to be part of. That's a memorable experience."
While Laina Snyder and Andi Daugherty have long been the centerpieces of this run, Jodi Johnson has emerged as a star. Johnson was fantastic as a freshman during Ashland's 2016-17 undefeated run to the national championship, scoring 12 points and grabbing 4.8 rebounds per game. Heading into Thursday night, she was on a whole new level, scoring 19.1 points per game behind a 62.6 field goal percentage (fourth in DII) and a DII-best 79 steals. Johnson put up 24 points against Wayne State while grabbing seven rebounds and adding four more steals to her DII total.
"Last year with our senior leaders, they showed me what Eagle basketball was all about," Johnson said. "This year with our senior leaders they really pushed that on us as well. I mean, two All-Americans, is definitely good to be a part of their team.
"I give all the credit to our ball stoppers, and our trappers. That sets me to be able to read passes and get in the passing lanes."
The Ashland University Eagles are the first basketball team in NCAA Division II history, WOMEN OR MEN, to win 58 games in a row! pic.twitter.com/ficrFvZDf2— Ashland University Eagles (@goashlandeagles) February 2, 2018
Snyder and Daugherty have lost a total of 11 games in their illustrious Eagles careers, nine coming in their freshman campaign under the tutelage of then-head coach Sue Ramsey. Since Johnson became an Eagle, Ashland hasn't lost. Let that sink in. The sophomore, along with fellow starter Renee Stimpert and key reserves Sara Loomis and Sarah Hart, has never lost a collegiate game.
"Definitely never thought it, but obviously I'm not complaining about it," Johnson told NCAA.com. "Like I've been saying, you just refect when you started playing basketball. Throughout my years, I've never been part of a team to go undefeated in a season, let alone as long as I've been here. It's definitely something to be a part of."
It wasn't the typical start for the Eagles. They actually trailed at the end of the first quarter 23-14. Wayne State's defense held them to just 27.8 percent shooting from the floor. They were down as many as 11 points, trailing by nine with 4:03 left in the first half when Fralick called a timeout.
"I said we needed to play a lot harder," Fralick said. "I felt defensively our effort and focus wasn't good to start. I didn't see our usual defensive intensity early on. I thought we just started some fight. There was a collective fight. I reminded them don't try to do it all by yourself. We're going to get back into this playing together and playing hard."
"They had a lot of energy to start the game," Johnson added. "We hadn't really seen that this season and it kind of frazzled us. I feel like we weren't playing aggressive and we didn't bring the energy and the definitely had a lot of energy as a credit to them. Once we realized what we needed to do we were able to push from there."
The Eagles ended the half on a 21-7 run and came out firing in the third. The Eagles opened on a 13-2 run, and when the smoke cleared, they were on their way to victory No. 58. It was the Eagles' program-record 20th straight GLIAC regular-season road win and fifth consecutive 100-point outing.
Which, of course, sets yet another program record.
"The streak isn't necessarily something we were focused on," Johnson said. "Like Coach said, we're in pursuit of the 40-minute game. Obviously those are stepping stones to get where we want to get. We want to get another championship."