Fans cheer from Ashland U gym as Eagles claim national basketball title
ASHLAND − The Ashland University Eagles are soaring with the women's basketball team's 37th straight win to claim the NCAA Div. II national championship.
A crowd decked out in purple and gold let out a huge cheer — one of many — Saturday in Kates Gymnasium as the AU team clinched the title, beating Minnesota Duluth 78-67 in Dallas, Texas.
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The crowd filled one side of the gymnasium during a watch party, where the game was piped in from Dallas. Fans were made up of families, and current and former students, among others.
Twitter was active Saturday as the news spread. "The Eagles have done it!," a tweet from the university announced. "They completed the perfect season with the NCAA Div. II national championship!"
🏆🏆🏆 The Eagles have done it! They completed the perfect season with the NCAA Div. II national championship!
Congrats, @AshlandWBB! 💜💛 https://t.co/Q08rK7DNhj
— Ashland University (@Ashland_Univ) April 1, 2023
An NCAA tweet also announced the news along with other media outlets, including CBS Sports. Gov. Mike DeWine also gave a shoutout to the team on Twitter.
"Congratulations to the UNDEFEATED and NATIONAL CHAMPION Ashland University Women's basketball team!!," he tweeted.
Congratulations to the UNDEFEATED and NATIONAL CHAMPION Ashland University Women’s basketball team!! https://t.co/ady1aZonhX
— Mike DeWine (@MikeDeWine) April 1, 2023
When asked before the game if he thought the Eagles would win Saturday, Korbyn Haley, a member of the AU football and track teams, unflinchingly answered, “Absolutely.”
Chants of "A — U" and “Let’s go Eagles,” could be heard throughout the game, with two young fans, Eleanor Freund, 11, and sister Lillian, 9, eagerly getting up to lead a few of the cheers. Their mom, Elizabeth Home, is the assistant athletic director.
During halftime and in between quarters, staff had T-shirt tosses and a basketball toss to keep the crowd entertained.
The undefeated team is led by head coach Kari Pickens, who has now won national championships as both a player and a coach, the first woman in Div. II history to do so.
This is the school’s fifth championship game appearance since 2012. They lost in 2012 and 2018, and won in 2013 and 2017.
This article originally appeared on Ashland Times Gazette: Fans cheer from Ashland U gym as Eagles claim NCAA Div. II title