With 27 seconds remaining, the game was tied at 79. Ball State had possession coming out of the timeout and needed a score to take the lead. Who would they go to?
The player who they have leaned on all season, senior forward Oshlynn Brown.
Brown drove down the right side of the lane and powered through contact to convert on a layup. She went on to hit the free-throw to make it a 3-point play and the rest is history. Head coach Brady Sallee was delighted with the execution from Brown and the rest of his group in such a crucial situation.
“We just kind of drew up an isolation for her,” Sallee said. “We ran a little bit of misdirection, ran over the top for a fake handoff, and then put the ball in her hands. I thought the kids did a great job.”
Ball State (12-9, 10-7 MAC) beat Northern Illinois (11-9, 9-6 MAC) 82-79 on Wednesday evening. This victory improves the Cardinals' road record to 10-2, good for best in the Mid-American Conference. While crowds might look a little different this year due to the COVID-19 guidelines, Sallee believes their performance on the road speaks to their identity.
“As a coach, being able to win on the road is always representative of the team's toughness level,” Sallee said. “Northern had about the same crowd they always have, and I thought our kids were a tougher team. It's been really cool to watch and to see them develop that kind of toughness. I think hopefully it's gonna pay off for us when we get to Cleveland.”
In addition to her late-game heroics, Brown inked her name in the Cardinals' record books by becoming the program's all-time leader in rebounding. After grabbing her third rebound late in the first quarter, she surpassed the 1,028 rebound mark set by Emma Jones (1984-87). While the moment was great, Brown did not coast through the rest of the game. Sallee believes her laser focus after the accomplishment only embodies what she is all about.
“I think breaking the record was important, but I don't think that she was really worried about it,” Sallee said. “She only needed to get three rebounds, so it was kind of a matter of time. I think with her, she did what she did and she knew that. I told her after the game, it's always great when you can break those records because you can just have the perfect taste in your mouth.”
For the night, Brown finished with 26 points and 12 rebounds. Sophomore guard Sydney Freeman poured in 20 points, while redshirt junior guard Anna Clephane scored 18 and junior forward Thelma Dis Agustsdottir contributed 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc.
For the Huskies, their scoring effort was led by 17 points from junior guard Janae Poisson. In 13 minutes of action, she went a perfect 5-of-5 from the three-point line.
The Cardinals will continue their road stand Saturday, Feb. 27, against Toledo (10-11, 6-11 MAC), The Cardinals won the first meeting 93-78 on Jan. 6. Tipoff is at noon.
Contact Charleston Bowles with comments at email@example.com or on Twitter @cbowles01.