Mat Mikesell

Coach Packard's smile said it all.

After Ball State's 86-77 win over Central Michigan Saturday evening, Packard was more than happy with her team's performance.

"It's so gratifying," Packard said. "This is what I lay awake at night and believe that we are very talented."

The first ten minutes of the game was a deadlock as neither team led by more than four points and had six tie scores.

After a pair of foul shots by freshman Katie Murphy, the Cardinals went into the locker room with a 35-31 lead.

Ball State pushed the lead to eight early in the second half, but Central Michigan rallied to get within two points.

In the final two minutes of the game, the Cardinals hit 11 consecutive foul shots after shooting 55 percent from the line in the game.

"I told the team to keep attacking," Packard said. "We shot 17 free throws and [Central Michigan] shot four."

Even with Ball State holding Central Michigan bellowing its points per game average, the Chippewas scored 52 points in the paint.

Packard said it was because she used an atypical defense.

"Our game plan was to go away from fundamental man to man defense," Packard said. "We refused to execute help side. I know that sounds silly but the reason is my history with Central Michigan is every time we sent help, they recognized where the help came from and it was blistering."

The Cardinals got a balanced offensive attack as senior Emily Maggert, senior Ty'ronda Benning and freshman Jazmin Hitchens combined for 64 points.

Hitchens had a career-high 20 points with two steals and two blocks.

Benning had another scoring performance after her 33-point game against Western Michigan.

"My mentality was to play hard and get my team involved," Benning said. "I wasn't trying to repeat 33 points. I knew if I played for my team they would feed off it."

The Cardinals shot 39 percent from the field and 38 percent from 3-point range. The Chippewas shot 43 percent from the field.

The win puts Ball State at 2-2 in the Mid-American Conference.