Junior center Renee Bennett attempts to score a shot during the game against Buffalo on Jan. 13 in Worthen Arena. DN PHOTO GRACE RAMEY
PREVIEW: Ball State women's basketball vs. Purdue
In-state bragging rights are on the line Dec. 8 when Ball State women's basketball hosts Purdue.
The Cardinals (5-2) already have two decisive wins over in-state opponents Butler (74-50, Dec. 4) and Evansville (84-49, Nov. 16), but the Boilermakers (5-4) will test a Ball State offense that's among the NCAA's leaders.
Ball State averages 74.1 points per game and shoots 48.6 percent as a team, the 11th-best mark in the NCAA. Purdue, however, only allows 57.4 points per game.
Ball State points per game: 74.1
Purdue points per game: 65.7
Ball State points against per game: 57.9
Purdue points against per game: 57.4
Ball State shooting percentage: 48.6 percent (11th NCAA)
Purdue shooting percentage: 42.6
Ball State assists per game: 19.4 (11th)
Purdue assists per game: 14.6
Slowing the Cardinals could be tough though, as four different players average at least 11 points per game. Part of the reason is ball distribution — sophomore point guard Carmen Grande is second in the country with 8.7 assists per game, and the team is 11th with 19.4 assists per game.
Ball State also boasts a pair of top 20 shooters in senior center Renee Bennett and sophomore guard Destiny Washington. Bennett (14.9 ppg) is tied for 18th in the country with a 61.5 percent shooting percentage and Washington (11.4 ppg) hits 61.7 percent of her shots, good for 17th.
Although junior forward Moriah Monaco leads the team with 16.3 points per game, Bennett and Washington will be key players against the Cardinals' Big Ten opponent. Bennett, listed at 6-foot-5-inches, has the size to match up with Purdue's frontcourt and is Ball State's top rebounder with 7.4 boards per game. Washington is second on the team with 7.0 rebounds per game, and she usually comes in off the bench.
Nobody on the Boilermakers' roster averages more than 6.8 rebounds per game, but that has more to do with opportunity than skill — Purdue still hauls in 7.2 more rebounds each game than its opponents.
Purdue is led by senior point guard Ashley Morrissette, who averages 15.4 points with 4.3 assists per game. She hits 34.1 percent of her 3-point attempts, but Ball State has limited its opponents to a 26.8 percent clip.
An area the Boilermakers could exploit, however, is the turnover battle. Ball State averages 19.4 turnovers per game, while Purdue only loses the ball 14.1 times each game. A chippy game could also hurt the Cardinals — they've only hit 65.1 percent of their free-throw attempts this season.
Purdue won the last matchup between the two schools, 73-63, last year in West Lafayette. In 2014, Purdue came to Muncie and won 66-60 in front of 4,012 fans, the third-largest women's basketball crowd in the history of Worthen Arena.
Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 8 at Worthen Arena.