UMD’s historic season ends falling to Ashland in NCAA DII women’s basketball championship

The University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) women’s basketball team saw their historic 2022-2023 season come to an end in the NCAA DII National Championship game Saturday afternoon falling to Ashland University 78-67 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.

Click the video box below for post game words from Taya Hakamaki & Ella Gilbertson, with tournament sights and sounds.

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This marked UMD’s first-ever appearance in the title game for both men’s and women’s basketball. It was the women’s fifth straight NCAA tournament appearance and 15th overall.

After the first quarter the Bulldogs trailed 14-11 with five UMD players landing on the score sheet. The Eagles would roll ahead in the second quarter outshooting UMD 26-11 to lead 40-22 at halftime. At the break Taya Hakamaki led the Bulldogs with five points and Ashland’s Annie Roshak led the game with 14 points.

“When we were going to call a play we needed to use hand signals because we weren’t able to hear each other as much so that was a little bit of an adjustment that we made. Just talking on defense we had to do that a little bit more because of the size of the arena,” fifth year guard Maesyn Thiesen said about the NBA court.

14 seconds into the third quarter Brooke Olson broke the NCAA DII women’s tournament scoring record surpassing 149 tournament points, finishing with 171. The record was 14 years old set by Franklin Pierce’s Johannah Leedham.

“I think it was just our team, we were all playing at the best at the peak of our I think careers,” Olson said regarding the record.

The third quarter ended with UMD trailing 59-40. UMD kept the game close in the fourth. After trailing by as much as 21 points in the game they came within as few as seven with under two minutes to go.

“It was hard being down by that much. We knew we had to chip away points as fast as we could and getting stops was one of those big things that we needed to do and we started to do those. We got more aggressive, we pressured the ball a little bit more which resulted in turnovers on their side. We were able to chip away points but not quite as much as we hoped,” junior guard Taya Hakamaki said.

In the end the Bulldogs would fall 78-67. Olson led the game with 26 points while Ella Gilbertson added 14 and Maesyn Thiesen posted 11. For the full box score, Click Here.

“Definitely doesn’t feel good to get this far and come up short but every single time that I try to be sad about the game I’m always like no I just need to keep my head up because of just the season that we’ve had. Like this was supposed to be a rebuild year,” Olson said.

This year’s NCAA women’s basketball DI, DII, and DIII tournaments also marked the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Title IX.

“When we reflect on Title IX and talk about how women’s basketball continues to progress, I told these women, we grew up in a little bit of a hockey town and I think they made people excited about women’s basketball,” head coach Mandy Pearson shared.

The Bulldogs close out their historic season with a 32-4 record. Ashland finishes with a perfect 37-0 season as NCAA DII women’s champions.

“It’s something you dream about as a kid coming to March Madness and playing. We’re lucky to be able to be a part of this playing with the Division I and Division III programs. It’s something we’ll never be able to experience again, unless we get here next year,” laughed junior guard Ella Gilbertson.