Ball State Cardinals Women’s Basketball hosted the Indiana University East Red Wolves (0-7) Monday in their home opener. The Cardinals won 105-51, improving their record to 1-1 on the season.
Thousands of elementary and middle school students from surrounding areas filled Worthen Arena as “Baby Shark” played through the speakers. With a reported crowd of 4,067 people in attendance, it was one of the loudest 11 a.m. Monday games at Ball State, inspiring the Cardinals, as head coach Brady Sallee said.
Pressure, pressure, pressure: Ball State’s full-court press forces many turnovers
Ball State came out in a full-court press immediately in the first quarter, racking up seven turnovers in just under four minutes. The Cardinals continued their pressure and racked up turnovers in the first quarter alone.
The press kept working, as the Cardinals continued to apply pressure on the Red Wolves and by the end of the first half, Ball State forced 26 turnovers opposed to their five miscues. Freshman Sydney Bolden led the Cardinals in the first half with four steals.
Even up 40 points, the Cardinals were relentless with their pressure, coming out of the first half right where they left off with the same full-court press. After coming out pressing, they eventually fell back later on in the second half.
By the final buzzer, the Cardinals forced 31 turnovers.
Team depth leads to multiple options for the Cardinals
In last week’s season opener against Tennessee Tech, Ball State’s bench outscored the starting five 39-24, and the bench again had a presence again in today’s victory with 47 of the 105 points scored.
All 12 players on the roster saw the floor, and at some points, four players subbed into the game at one time. Out of 58 first-half points, the bench alone had 24 of those points.
Freshman Hana Mühl and Bolden had over eight minutes in the first half of action, with Bolden scoring nine points.
It was also a story of key returners leading the Cardinals as redshirt senior Anna Clephane finished with a team-high 22 points and senior Estel Puiggros returned to action for the first time since sustaining a serious knee injury in the semifinals of the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championship Tournament in March 2022.
Sophomore Marie Kiefer, a starter, led the Cardinals in scoring in the first half, as she shot 5-8 with ten points. She was also a threat on the boards, collecting five offensive rebounds and one defensive rebound in the first half. At the end of the game, Kiefer amounted 10 rebounds and 16 points, her first double-double of the season.
Five Cardinals would be in double-digit scoring by the end of the game.
Ball State continues to struggle from the three-point line
The Cardinals were 2-17 from beyond the arc in their first outing of the season, proving to continue to be a struggle for Ball State in their victory over IU East.
The first half of action was almost a mirror image of the previous game, as the Cardinals opened up shooting 3-16 from the three-point line. They finished the game 5-31, making their season total 7-48.
One of the key three-point shooters from last year, graduate student Thelma Dis Agustsdottir, shot 84-230 from three last season and led the Cardinals in three-pointers as well. So far this season she is 0-13 from deep.
As a result of these struggles, Ball State had the chance to grab offensive rebounds, giving the Cardinals either a putback or the opportunity to pass it out and reset the offense. At the end of the game, Ball State had more offensive rebounds than defensive rebounds with 28 offensive and 23 defensive rebounds, totaling 51 rebounds, outrebounding the Red Wolves by 13.
Ball State returns to action Thursday, Nov. 17 against Butler University (1-1) at 6:30 p.m. in Worthen Arena.
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