Tuesday at 2:45 a.m. Ball State Women's Basketball departed Muncie, Indiana.
After 11 hours of traveling, the Ball State Women’s Basketball arrived in Logan, Utah.
A long day of travel turns into a late-night practice, 8 p.m. in Muncie, but it is only 6 p.m. in Logan.
Wednesday, 4 p.m. in Muncie, and 2 p.m. in Logan, the Cardinals finally started what they came to Utah for. A basketball game.
“We had a lot of travel yesterday, and getting in the gym and practicing last night and shooting around this morning, I think we were just finally ready to play,” senior Annie Rauch said. “So I think you kind of saw that when we went out there. It was just good to actually do what we came down here to do after traveling for so long.”
After the final buzzer, Ball State came out victorious 80-55 and improved their record to 3-2, while Utah State now is 1-4
“Fundamental offensive machine.”
That was how the Aggies’ commentators described the Ball State offense in their matchup against Utah State.
That “fundamental offensive machine” was apparent in the first half, as the Cardinals shot 51.6% from the field, 46.2% from three and 80% from the free-throw line. Although the Cardinals finished the first half this way, the first quarter didn’t look quite so dominant.
In the first quarter, the Cardinals only led by four points, 19-15, but when Ball State went back onto the court in the second quarter, things changed. Most of all, on the defensive side of the ball, head coach Brady Sallee said.
“We changed our ball screen defense, they were getting too much penetration off the ball screens and we made a slight adjustment there,” Sallee said. “I felt our kids did a great job with [the] adjustment, cut the floor, and made it really tough for Utah State to do anything in rhythm. Then we started hitting shots, we're getting stops, coming down and making threes and moving the ball really well.”
At the end of the game the stats changed, but not by much. The Cardinals finished 47.5% from field goals, 34.6% from three and 78.9% from the free-throw line.
“I think this is closer to who we are,” Sallee said. “I think we've been in search of a game where we made eight plus threes, so it was nice to see some of those go down, and really, it was kind of across the board. I know (graduate student) Thelma [Dis Agustsdottir] made three but Madelyn [Bischoff] made a couple, (freshman) Sydney Bolden made a couple [and] (senior) Sydney Shafer made a couple.”
Ball State came into the matchup forcing an average of 22 turnovers per game. By the end of the final buzzer, the Cardinals matched their average against Utah State.
At No. 7 Notre Dame (4-0), sophomore Madelyn Bischoff was one of the leaders for Ball State, it was no different against the Aggies. Bischoff finished tied for leading the Cardinals in points with 12, adding two steals, three assists and two rebounds.
When asked about what can be attributed to her recent performances, the answer was fast and simple.
“Definitely my teammates,” Bischoff said. “The way we move the ball and contribute with each other, it just really makes a difference on everything.”
Sallee credited Bischoff with a great half-court defensive performance, and with being able to make threes, and get to the rim and finish. Bischoff also talked about lessons learned at Notre Dame, and how Ball State learned from that experience and the mistakes.
Ball State found another leader in Rauch. Rauch tied with Bischoff with 12 points and led the team in rebounds with eight. In her 18 minutes played, Rauch went 5-6 from the field and was 2-2 from the free-throw line.
“It felt good, I feel like our team had a lot of momentum, so when I came in I just kind of went along with it,” Rauch said.
With the Cardinals traveling to face BYU (2-4) Saturday at 6 p.m. ET, it can be overlooked that they are missing Thanksgiving while most students are at home. Even if the Cardinals are not home, they are still enjoying themselves on the road trip.
“[Road trips are] always awesome. I think we have a good time wherever, and it'll be nice,” Rauch said. “Tomorrow we're having a little Thanksgiving dinner as a team, so that'll be good too. Just to relax a little bit and enjoy each other's company, and that always helps with chemistry.”
Bischoff backed up Rauch with her thoughts of traveling for road trips for Ball State
“I love being with my team during these times,” Bischoff said. “Honestly, we're a family and I think it's just fun traveling with them, it's never boring. It was a really long day yesterday, but it felt like we slept and recovered, and it really showed how we play as a team.”