Turnovers, rebounds and points in the paint were downfalls of the Ball States Women’s Basketball team on the road against Toledo. All of these factors led up to an eventual loss to the Rockets in a close Mid-American Conference (MAC) conference game, dropping the Cardinals to 2-1 in conference play.
All things considered, Toledo was going to be an important game for the Cardinals from the tip-off. Not only was this a conference game, but Toledo has had some big wins this season, one being against then-ranked no. 14 ranked Michigan.
Ball State struggled early
The first quarter, even with small glimpses of hope, was by no means a good one for the Cardinals.
The Rockets outrebounded Ball State by three, not bad. The alarming stat was Ball State struggling to stop points in the paint. Toledo outscored the Cardinals 12 to four in the paint, and most looks for the Rockets were easy back cuts or wide-open layups.
The Cardinals also shot 5-of-15 (33.3 percent) from the field and struggled to stop pretty much all aspects of the Toledo offense. The Rockets opened most of the game with a 2-3 defense and stalled Ball State's offense.
In the second quarter, the Cardinals found an answer and things rapidly changed.
Marie Kiefer led Ball State's second-quarter turnaround
Ball State erased all thoughts of the first quarter and came out with a hot start in the second. With help from six points from sophomore Marie Kiefer, the Cardinals went on a 17-6 run.
Kiefer was the leader in the first half and the Cardinals needed it. It was easy to see her production as the foundation of the first-half comeback.
Playing only 13 minutes out of a total of 20 in the first half, she had 16 points. In another category that stood out, Kiefer was 2-of-3 (66.6 percent) from the 3-point line in the first half.
Even if Kiefer was the key leader for the scoring side, sophomore Ally Becki showed again how versatile of a player she is. Becki had a team-high seven rebounds and would also be tied for the second-highest scorer on the team with six points heading into the locker room.
At the end of the game, Kiefer had 19 points.
Becki finished the game with 17 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. All of this came after a game where she did not play due to injury.
MACtion and the eventual lead-up to a loss
After two close games in the conference, there was an obvious pattern that yet again stuck to this game. The third quarter was a constant back-and-forth affair in the second half with multiple changes.
With both teams being highly ranked in the MAC, Toledo tied for second and Ball State tied for first, it was destined to be a close battle. Going into the last quarter, there had been seven lead changes in the game. It just shows you how close and competitive MAC games are.
What killed the Cardinals, and sealed the deal for the Rockets, was what killed them in the first quarter, being easy points in the paint. The scoring plays for the Rockets most of the time were either over-the-top passes that would go to an open layup. The other reason was a defensive breakdown where the Cardinals would miss an assignment, leaving a wide-open shot or layup.
At the end of the game, the Cardinals were outscored in the paint 42-28. At the end of the game being outscored in the paint by that large of a gap makes it hard to win games.
Contact Elijah Poe with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ElijahPoe4.
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