CHIRP: Breakdown - Ball State vs. Northern Illinois
Northern Illinois: Redshirt senior Marke Freeman is leading the Huskies in scoring with an average of just over 16 points per game this season, which is eighth best in the Mid-American Conference. If uncovered, Freeman will make Ball State pay.
Ball State: Senior captain Ty'Ronda Benning is second on the Cardinals in scoring, with just under 13 points per contest, while running the offense. Look for Benning to take control of the game for Ball State. The offense flows smoothly when the ball is in her hands. Driving to the lane and drawing fouls will be key for Benning and the Cardinals.
Advantage: Northern Illinois: Outside of Benning, Ball State is inexperienced and exposed both defensively and offensively. Freshman guard Brandy Woody leads the team with 129 turnovers on the season. The turnovers aren't likely to come to screeching halt tonight. Too many turnovers could end up costing Ball State a victory on Senior Night.
Northern Illinois: Redshirt senior Ebony Ellis leads the Huskies with an average of 8.4 rebounds per game to go along with 11 points per game. Ellis plays aggressive, hard-nosed basketball and is tough to box out.
Ball State: Senior Emily Maggert leads the Cardinals not only in scoring with an average of 14.9 points per game, but rebounds with an average of 8.5 per contest. Maggert has controlled the boards all season for Ball State. Though she tends to be conservative when matched up against a more physical opponent, Maggert still finds ways to convert baskets.
Northern Illinois: Freshman guard Ashley Sneed is shooting just under 43 percent from the field while coming off the bench for the Huskies. The Huskies have an entire second unit off the bench with each player averaging over 10 minutes. When needed, look for Northern Illinois to sub players in and out.
Ball State: Junior guard Megan Craft is shooting 53 percent from beyond the arc off the bench for Ball State this season. The Cardinals have a veteran bench mixed in with a handful of freshmen. The Cardinals bench will need to produce offensively. Coach Kelly Packard is not afraid to go to her bench, as she's been known to do early and often this season.
Advantage: Ball State: When she's on her game, Craft is nearly unstoppable from three-point range. Junior forward Suzanne Grossnickle, junior center Amber Crago and freshman forward Katie Murphy provide size for Ball State. Each player is 6 feet or taller. Look for Packard to use her reserves frequently to preserve Benning and Maggert.