“If you didn’t enjoy watching that game, there’s something wrong with you.”
Ball State head coach Brady Sallee handed credit to Northern Illinois’ ability to move the ball and score. Despite solid efforts and resilience from Ball State (7-16, 2-8 MAC), Northern Illinois (14-8, 6-4 MAC) surpassed the Cardinals, 93-83.
Junior Jasmin Samz displayed her leadership in today’s matchup in the form of a career-high 23 points with the addition of four rebounds and three steals. She was joined with four other Cardinal players who racked up double-digit points.
“[Samz] needed a game like this,” Sallee said. “From that first point she put up, she didn’t stop.”
The Huskies’ Mikayla Voigt served her reputation well, scoring 12 in the first half and more than doubling that in the second to end the day with 37. Averaging 20.7 points per game, the senior guard has proved to be a major threat within the Mid-American Conference. With a career-high 52 points earlier this season against Western Illinois, Voigt has guided her team to big victories over Yale, Nevada, Brown and North Dakota State.
Quarter one was even keel. Where the Huskies led in field goal attempts, the Cardinals led in percentage. With equal percentage from three and an equal number of rebounds on the defensive end, the first 10 minutes ended with a score of 27-26, favoring the Cardinals.
The Huskies built up a 10-point lead midway through the second quarter, courtesy of Voigt and Myia Starks who were already in double figures. The duo caused their fair share of problems for the Cardinals, each one dropping 12 points by halftime.
The rebounding game was key in the second quarter with the numbers favoring the Huskies, who grabbed 22 to the Cardinals’ 12. This isn’t the first time the Cardinals found struggles on the rebounding end. This past Wednesday, Central Michigan topped the Cardinals in rebounds by 11.
“All of us came in at halftime and looked at each other and said, ‘We know what we have to do,’” Samz said. “The composure we had today is something we didn’t have at the beginning of the year. We’ve gained it from all of the different situations, from practice to games, that we’ve had to be in and worked through.”
The third quarter has been a hindrance for the Cardinals throughout the year, where they have been outscored by 47 points on the season. While it looked as though Saturday would be different when the Cardinals managed to cut the deficit to four, the Huskies continued to rattle off shots. Despite the deficit, the Cardinals managed to even out the rebounding game in the third with each team grabbing eight.
“We’re building from top to bottom,” Samz said. “From those who play 10 minutes to those who play 35 minutes, we’ve all got the ability, and we’re going to continue to get better from these game situations that we’re in.”
While the Cardinals managed to keep the game under control and refrain from allowing too many Huskie buckets, Voigt remained difficult to contain as she scored 15 points in the fourth quarter. The Cardinals ended the day with their fourth loss in a row, but Sallee counts the offensive efforts of his team and the five players with 10 or more points as a win.
“We felt confident about our offensive plan coming into tonight,” Sallee said. “These kids are in the gym and working, and there’s no reason to think that when those shots are going up that they’re not going to knock them down.”
Contact Gabi Glass with any comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @gabiglassbsu.