Thursday, Ball State Women’s Basketball (2-1) was able to fend off in-state opponent, and head coach Brady Sallee’s hopeful new rival, Butler (1-2), by a score of 84-68.
It was a game of two halves for the Cardinals. In the first, Ball State closely trailed Butler, but coming out of halftime, the Cardinals were able to adjust and pull away with a 21-point win.
Butler and Ball State, mirror images … for the first half
After the first quarter, both teams were tied in turnovers possessions, and Butler had one more rebound. Halfway into the second quarter, the mirror image would stay near the same. The Cardinals had one more turnover than the Bulldogs, one less rebound and both teams had 25 possessions.
Halftime, same thing.
At this point, there were eight lead changes between the teams, four for Butler and four for Ball State, as Butler led 33-32.
Ball State and Butler both had nine turnovers, the Bulldogs had one more rebound, and the same amount of possessions at 33, you know the drill.
In the third quarter, the mirror image apparent in the first half, cracked.
Although most of the stats were the same, Butler having two more rebounds and the same number of possessions at 51, one major stat changed in the third quarter. Turnovers.
Ball State forced six turnovers in the third quarter, committing zero for themselves. This turnover deficit seemed to be the reason why the Cardinals found themselves up ten points going into the fourth quarter.
At the end of the game, Butler had nine more turnovers than Ball State. Even still, Ball State lost the rebound battle, but by two.
The Cardinals rode out that momentum and ended up widening their lead as the fourth quarter progressed, which led to the eventual win for Ball State.
Cardinals led by Becki and Clephane
Sophomore Ally Becki and redshirt senior Anna Clephane led the Cardinals, not only in the first half but in the game as a whole.
Becki had 13:05 minutes in the first half and Clephane led the team in minutes with 18:19. Those lengthy minutes stayed the same, Clephane had 32:30 total minutes and Becki had 26:16 minutes
The two also led the team in points, Clephane with nine and Becki with eight. The Cardinals only had five scorers in the first half.
Essentially every minute Becki was in the game, she was creating plays for her teammates. Diving for loose balls, forcing jump balls and assisting teammates, to name a few. Her on-court presence was apparent and her defense was able to help the Cardinals stop the Bulldogs in the third.
Going into the fourth quarter, Becki and Clephane still led the way in points for the Cardinals. Becki had 15 points and Clephane with 13. Becki was also 6-6 from the free-throw line and Clephane was 6-8.
When the final buzzer sounded, Becki had 18 points, 3 assists and 5 rebounds. Clephane had 15 points and 3 rebounds.
Cardinal’s defensive struggles early on (emphasis on early)
Although the full-court press was dominant in previous games, Butler was able to move the ball around to break the press in the first half of this contest. Butler broke down the Cardinal defense, moving the ball around the perimeter and passing it inside and kicking it out for the open shot.
Butler used a high-screen offense at times, where the center came up and screened a defender and drove to the basket. This offense worked well for the Bulldogs, creating open shots or an open shot off the screen.
When Butler was open- although they only shot 5-15 from three in the first half- they were wide open.
Butler's Graduate student guard/forward Rachel McLimore was a problem for the Cardinals. McLimore had 16 points and was the key to Butler’s offense, even when things changed for the Bulldogs in the second half.
As pointed out, turnovers in the third quarter changed the game drastically, but as a whole, the defensive effort from the Cardinals was much more dominant in the second half. Butler was held at range from the three-point line, only making three shots from long range in the second half.
The second half also saw more blocks for the Cardinals, where there was only one in the first half, there were four in the second half with freshman Alex Richard having three.