It was an awkward start in Savage Arena, as points were scored before the opening tip. The Cardinals were down moments prior to the contest, and junior forward Oshlynn Brown wasn’t a part of the starting lineup for the first time this season.
However, the two-point head start didn’t come back to hurt the Cardinals, as they went on to beat Toledo (11-11, 6-4 MAC) in their first matchup this year 60-58.
Ball State Women’s Basketball (16-7, 8-3 MAC) found themselves down before the clock even started because they were given a technical foul for a jersey issue, which happened to be called on Brown. She wasn’t able to enter the game in the first quarter.
“We were really squirrely there in the beginning,” head coach Brady Sallee said. “Oshlynn leaving her jersey in the hotel … Ironically, we talked about before the game is all we can do is control the controllable.”
Toledo sent junior guard Nakiah Black to the free-throw line, and she made them count, which gave the Rockets a 2-0 lead before the game officially started.
Wednesday night MAC scoreboard
Eastern Michigan - 70, Bowling Green - 58
Western Michigan - 74, Buffalo - 62
Kent State - 60, Akron - 55
Northern Illinois - 86, Miami (Ohio) - 84 (OT)
To add to the strange start, both teams struggled to find any offensive rhythm in the first half. There was some sloppy play on display, as Ball State only connected on 9-of-26 shots from the field while committing 11 turnovers. Toledo wasn’t any better, as they made 8-of-30 of their field goals with 13 turnovers.
Things didn’t pick up to start the second half, as each team just couldn’t get much going on the offensive end, but the Cardinals eventually went on a 6-0 run, which gave them the largest lead of the contest 33-26.
Toledo neutralized the Ball State lead, but a jump shot by graduate student guard Jasmin Samz at the buzzer gave the Cardinals a two-point lead heading into the fourth.
From there on out, it was a back-and-forth battle between the two. Neither squad could build a comfortable lead, as there were nine lead changes and eight ties altogether. Toledo had two chances to either tie or take the lead with just 20 seconds left, but it wasn’t able to convert.
“We keep them in it by not salting it away with some free throws down the end, but at the end of the day, the toughness my team showed, and the resiliency and to hold them to 58 points,” Sallee said. “We made it tough on them all day, and I’m really proud of our effort.”
Ball State didn’t have a standout performer throughout, but its team effort was key, as it has been throughout the season for them.
Samz's scoring came at an important time for the Cardinals in the fourth quarter. She has continued to be clutch in late-game situations this season, and it was no different against the Rockets, as she scored six of her 14 points in the final frame.
Brown was the only other Cardinal in double-digit scoring with 10 points, and senior guard Arbrie Benson put up eight.
In the contest, Ball State lacked in 3-point shooting the most. It only connected on 2-of-15, but Toledo wasn’t much better, as it made 5-of-23.
Ball State’s win kept it at second in the Mid-American Conference West Division standings and third overall.
The Cardinals will be on the road again Saturday as they take on Buffalo.
Contact Daric Clemens with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @DaricClemens.