Ball State Women’s Basketball improved to 5-1 in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) for the first time since the 2016-17 season with a win over Central Michigan (3-14, 1-5 in MAC) 71-61.
Head coach Brady Sallee said any basketball team that is going to have a special year, wins at home. The Cardinals are now undefeated at home this season.
Low scoring and ugly first half
For a team that averages almost 80 points per game, the Cardinals only scored 12 points in the first quarter.
Sophomore Ally Becki led Ball State with four points and was 2-of-3 (66 percent) from the field in the first.
The Cardinals found themselves getting out-rebounded 10-7, and even if it was only three rebounds, four of them were offensive rebounds. Those offensive rebounds by the Chippewas extended plays and gave a second life to Central Michigan's offense, keeping it a close game.
At the end of the game, the Chippewas had 17 offensive rebounds, ten more than Ball State.
It is not unusual to see Ball State in a full-court press, and most of the time it worked. Although the press was effective at times in today's game, Chippewas freshman guard Bridget Utberg was able to effectively run right around or pass straight through the press.
The Cardinals were able to change some momentum, but it did not come until the end of the second quarter.
Ball State increased their scoring in the second quarter where they scored ten more points than they did in the first, totaling 22 points alone in the second quarter. Going into halftime, the Cardinals were also able to flip the script and were leading in rebounds 17-16. Ball State was able to score more by holding down the paint, where the Cardinals outscored Central Michigan 22-12 with points in the paint in the half.
The Chippewas were able to keep it close for essentially the whole game, led by freshman guard/forward Sydney Harris who had 26 points and was 9-for-28 (32 percent) from the field, with seven of her makes being from the 3-point-line.
Team chemistry and unselfish basketball
There is no doubt there is great team chemistry around the Cardinals. You have the roommate-scoring duo of graduate student Thelma Dis Agustsdottir and redshirt senior Anna Clephane. You have the unselfish pass-first mentality of sophomore Ally Becki. You have the key post player in sophomore Marie Kiefer, who rebounds and scores. You have sophomore Madelyn Bischoff with an additional shooting presence. The Cardinals have a lot of different types of players on the team, but when playing together their team chemistry shines.
One similarity between all of them is the great defense that Sallee prides himself on, saying many times that the defense creates the offense. There are multiple examples where every player on the court, at any given time, can be seen diving for loose balls or going up to get rebounds.
It is clear to see there is no main “superstar” on the team. At the end of the game, there were four scorers in double-digits in Becki, Kiefer, Bischoff and Clephane.
The Cardinals also run at a high pace, with most of their scoring drives coming off a full sprint to the basket or a kick out after many passes to find an open basket.
A strong showing from Kiefer, Bischoff and Clephane
As mentioned earlier, Kiefer was one of the leading players for Ball State in this contest. Going into the fourth quarter, with a four-point Cardinal lead, she had 14 points and was 6-of-6 (100 percent) from the field. She also led the Cardinals with six rebounds heading into the last quarter. At the end of the game, she finished with 16 points.
Bischoff scored 10 points against the Chippewas on 4-for-7 (57 percent) shooting from the field. Bischoff also led the team with three-pointers made with two.
Ever since surpassing her 1000-point mark, Clephane has been dominant in her scoring. Clephane had 19 points and was 8-for-10 (80 percent) from the field. She also led Ball State the team in minutes, playing every single minute.