Ball State Women’s Basketball won 61-56 against Akron in a highly competitive Mid-American Conference (MAC) game. The Cardinals (21-4, 11-1 MAC) moved the Zips (14-9) to 5-7 in the MAC.
This is the first time in Ball State history the Cardinals have started off 11-1 in the MAC.
Highly competitive and fast first quarter
Right out of the gate, the game was bound to be competitive.
Akron was able to get out to a quick and early lead with an impressive performance from the 3-point line. The Zips were 3-4 (75 percent) from three very early. This run was able to give the Zips a lead of 13-7.
If there is one thing to know about Ball State, it is that they often go on big scoring runs, which is exactly how the Cardinals responded. Ball State went on a 13-0 run to end the first and ended the quarter with a 20-13 lead.
The Cardinals’ offense was surely clicking in the closing minutes of the quarter, but it also says a lot about a defense that can hold a team scoreless. Ball State held Akron scoreless for the last 5:36 minutes of the first. Picking up where they left off in their Feb. 8 victory over Eastern Michigan (12-10, 4-7 MAC), where they forced 23 turnovers, the Cardinals forced 8 turnovers in the first.
The two leaders for Ball State in the quarter were sophomore Madelyn Bischoff and graduate student Thelma Dis Agustsdottir, as each of them had 6 points in just 10 minutes.
Ball State’s continued streaky offense
As good as the Ball State offense is (and it is very good, so good in fact that it is 14th in the nation for scoring at 79.2 points per game), there have been many points in the season where their streaky offense has hurt them. Today was no different.
After a high-scoring 20-point first quarter, it looked as if the Cardinals would pull away. After a 17-2 total run, going back to the first quarter, it looked like maybe the deficit would be too great for Akron to overcome. It would be the opposite.
Ball State put up nine points in the second quarter. Akron didn’t score a crazy amount either, they put up just one more point than they did in the first, 14. The real problem is the highs and lows of the Ball State offense. The Cardinals just could not find the basket, only hitting four shots in the quarter, shooting 4-16 (25 percent).
It is not a one-time thing either; when Ball State faced Eastern Michigan Feb. 8, it was a scoring run that put Eastern back into the game. That being said, the Cardinals did win that game by 18, part of that because of a 24-point third quarter.
It would almost be a mirror first half in the second half. Ball State came out with a huge third quarter, scoring 21 points. The fourth quarter, though, had just 11 points.
Win or lose, it makes games close in bursts or until the end. Up to this point, Ball State has almost always been able to back up their play and win, and today was no different by the time the final whistle blew.
There is one thing to think about though, with the MAC Championship Tournament tipping off in just 25 days, can the Cardinals continue to afford streaky offense performances?
A few positives to see in an overall rough game
As she has been in games past, redshirt senior Anna Clephane continued to be a leader in the game today. With an offense that was not super effective, she finished with 26 points, shooting 9-17 (53 percent) from the field.
For the second game in a row, the Cardinals forced 23 turnovers in a conference game. Part of that defense was able to contain Akron sophomore Reagan Bass, who came into the matchup averaging 17.5 points per game. Ball State’s defense held her to 10 points.
Sophomore Ally Becki had an unusual shooting performance, she was 0-8 from the field today. Even though she finished with 0 points, her rebound (six total) on one of Akron’s last possessions was able to ensure a Ball State win.
Ball State returns to action Feb. 15 against Ohio (5-18, 3-9 MAC) at 6:30 p.m. in Muncie, Ind.