Big Rapids, Mich. - Nationally second-ranked Ashland University got off to a fast start and defeated the Ferris State University women's basketball squad 79-55 in the season opener for both teams on Friday (Jan. 8) at Kates Gymnasium in Ashland, Ohio.
The Eagles stretched their home court winning streak to 22 consecutive games by outscoring FSU 22-7 in the opening quarter. The Bulldogs, who also had six newcomers see action in what marked the debut for first-year head coach Kurt Westendorp, battled Ashland even in the second and outscored the Eagles 20-14 over the final 10 minutes of the game in their initial outing of the year.
The two teams will meet again in the series finale on Saturday (Jan. 9) with tipoff slated for 4 p.m. (ET) in Ohio.
Freshman Kadyn Blanchard had an impressive debut for the Bulldogs with a team-high 18 points to go with six rebounds, three steals and two assists in 31 minutes. Meanwhile, sophomore guard Mallory McCartney added 14 points with freshman Amaka Unobagha totaling eight points off the bench.
The Eagles, who went 31-0 overall a year ago, held FSU to 40% shooting with the Bulldogs going two-of-13 (15.4%) from three-point range and five-of-seven (71.4%) at the line.
Ashland, meanwhile, shot 63% for the game and hit seven-of-15 (46.7%) three's and eight-of-11 (72.7%) free throws while owning a 30-28 rebounding edge. Both teams finished with 18 turnovers overall.
The Eagles were led by preseason all-conference standouts Karlee Pireu and Hallie Heidemann, who notched 26 and 14 points, respectively. Sophia Fortner added 13 points off the bench.
Ferris State played without four players due to injury, including the preseason conference player of the year in senior guard Adrienne Anderson.
Saturday's game will be carried live by Sunny 97.3 FM and the Bulldog Sports Network with pregame coverage starting at approximately 4 p.m. (ET). Complete game co coverage links are available online at FerrisStateBulldogs.com