The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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February 25, 2013

Ashford women ousted in semifinals

JAMESTOWN, N.D. — A big second-half run by host Jamestown College ended the season for the Ashford University women's basketball team Saturday.

The Jimmies, the top seed and 16th-ranked team in the NAIA, beat the Saints 83-68 in the semifinals of the Association of Independent Institutions women’s basketball tournament inside the Jamestown Civic Center.

Sophomore guard Madison Wagner scored a game-high 19 points to lead Ashford, which closed the season with a 14-17 record, while Jennifer Forge poured in 14.

The Saints trailed 36-27 at halftime but exploded back following the intermission, ignited by a 9-0 run to tie things up at 36-36 with 17 minutes, 37 seconds to play. Baskets by Wagner, Quinn Rear (a 3-pointer), Deana Bledsoe and Forge evened the score.

Amber Ramlo made 1 of 2 free throws to put the Jimmies back on top, but Jessica Mlachnik scored to give Ashford its first lead, then Gaby Ayon made two free throws to give the Saints a 40-37 lead with 16:28 remaining.

Carly Jensen’s 3-pointer tied the game at 40, and a free throw by Hannah Steele put Jamestown back on top. Wagner answered with a basket for Ashford, but a 3-pointer by Steele put the Jimmies on top to stay, 44-42. Steele and Jensen followed up with 3-pointers on Jamestown’s next two possessions, and the Jimmies led 50-42 and continued to pull away. Jamestown had a 13-4 edge in made 3-point baskets.

The Jimmies used a balanced scoring attack, with four of their five starters scoring in double digits and the other finishing with nine points. Jensen led Jamestown with 15 points, Steele and Bridget Schuneman added 12 apiece and Morgan Mathison scored 11. Ramlo had nine points and a team-high eight rebounds.

Jamestown opened the clash on a 6-0 run and kept the pressure on the Saints throughout the remainder of the first half. The home team went out to an 11-4 lead before opening a 20-8 advantage with 10:18 showing on the clock in the first half.

Ashford responded, and behind five points from Wagner over a stretch of four minutes, cut the JC lead back to 24-20 with 4:59 to go.

But the Jimmies answered with another run of their own and carried a 36-27 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Wagner scored eight first-half points as all five AU starters found their way into the scoring column. The Saints shot 8-of-25 (32 percent) in the first half while committing 10 turnovers.

Bledsoe scored 11 points in her final collegiate game for Ashford, while freshman Mlachnik tallied 10 points and was 6-of-6 from the free-throw line in the second half.

Ashford outrebounded Jamestown 33-31 but committed more turnovers (21-13).

The Jimmies (26-5) beat Valley City State University 69-52 in Sunday’s final, and both teams qualified for the NAIA national tournament. Steele was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

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