ALLENDALE, Mich. (WOOD) — It has become arguably the biggest and best rivalry in all of NCAA Division II women’s basketball.
“You get the sense it’s always a bigger game when we play Ashland,” Mike Williams, GVSU’s women’s basketball head coach, said. “The teams (being) undefeated and all the things that go into it.”
Grand Valley State University and Ashland University are each 13-0 this season and have a combined and astounding 207-and-23 over the past four seasons.
“I think we definitely look at it a little bit different every time we go down to Ashland,” Lakers senior guard Jenn DeBoer, said. “It’s always a great environment. It’s always a tough game — one of the toughest games of the season and it will be our toughest challenge yet.”
The Grand Valley Lakers are ranked number three in the nation. The Ashland Eagles are number four.
“We’re very excited to play, to go down there. Ashland’s a great environment. They pack the gym every time,” Lakers senior center Cassidy Boensch, said. “It’s really a unique experience, so we’re really excited for it.”
Boensch, DeBoer and the other Laker seniors went 0-7 their first two years against Ashland, including two losses in both the conference and NCAA tournaments before finally winning both games last year.
“After that first two of not being able to beat them, having those two wins under our belt — it does mean something,” Boensch said. “It definitely gives us the confidence to go into this game knowing we can beat them.”
While the Lakers won the regular season conference title a year ago, the Eagles have won the last four GLIAC post season titles.
“I tell these players, you’ve had a chance to play in a lot of big games,” Williams said. “I think there used to it. I think they like it.”
“There’s definitely a lot of added pressure, but I definitely think there’s added excitement as well.”