A journey down to Western Kentucky (5-7, 0-0 CUSA) ends in a victory for Ball State Women’s Basketball (3-7, 0-0 MAC) after they clinched a tight win at 86-83.
Holding momentum in the overall series, the Cardinals had won four of seven total meetings against the Toppers coming into tonight’s game.
Both teams had four players in the double-digits in terms of points, the Lady Toppers led by juniors Dee Givens and Alexis Brewer, each with 19, and the Cardinals by sophomore Oshlynn Brown with 25.
After an early tie at 10-10, the Cardinals led throughout the remainder of the first quarter. Sophomores Maliah Howard-Bass and Brown, along with freshman Thelma Dis Agustsdottir, each contributed five points and the team went 3-4 from three in the first. Head coach Brady Sallee said seeing the shots fall tonight was priceless after some struggles thus far in the season.
“They’ve been working so hard and tonight was much needed,” Sallee said. “Once exams were finished last week they were in the gym working hard on it and it’s nice to see that hard work get rewarded.”
The Cardinals saw their numbers climbing rapidly tonight from previous games. Having had their fair share of struggles from the field this season, the Cardinals went 53 percent from the field, up from their season percentage of 37, and 43 percent from three, up from 25 percent.
Free throws also played a major role in the outcome. Thirty-one of the Cardinals’ points came from free throws, and they went 77 percent from the line. The Cardinals outdid the Lady Toppers in every category apart from offensive rebounds.
The second half ended with the Cardinals at 57 percent from three and 17 rebounds. It was turnovers that kept the Toppers in the game, as the Cardinals had tallied 13 going into halftime.
With freshman Anna Clephane out with an injury, Howard-Bass and freshmen Gabby Smith and Abi Haynes saw some extra minutes tonight.
“We were lucky enough to have some practice days to worry about how we would look with her being out,” Sallee said. “Everybody did their part to fill the void and it was an opportunity to have some others step up.”
Brown was the key contributor on the evening. Apart from her 25 points, the sophomore sunk nine free throws, grabbed 10 rebounds, and went 8-12 from the field. Sallee said it’s her effort and aggressiveness that help her to be a leader for the team.
“She’s competing at a really high level,” Sallee said. “The shots dropped for her, she got to the rim, she fought her way to the free throw line. She played like the best player on the floor tonight.”
But it wasn’t a one-woman effort. Five Cardinal players posted threes on the night and all but one player who saw minutes had points on the board. Following Brown was Howard-Bass with 17 and junior Jasmin Samz with 12. Samz also dished five assists.
The Cardinals are back in action on Friday against Tennessee State University in Worthen Arena.
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