Center Renee Bennett goes up for a shot while being guarded by Dominique McBryde during the Cardinals’ game against Purdue on Dec. 8 in Worthen Arena. The Cardinals have won all three of their MAC games so far this season, but are tied for first place in the West division with Central Michigan and Northern Illinois. Paige Grider // DN File
RECAP: Ball State women's basketball vs. Purdue
Senior center Renee Bennett held the ball over her head with less than 10 seconds left in the second quarter with Ball State women's basketball trailing Purdue 27-18.
She stood there, waiting for someone to spring open at the top of the arc, but help never came. Sophomore guard Carmen Grande was cutting near the baseline and senior guard Jill Morrison was waiting in the wing.
The clock counted down and Bennett, who has made six 3-pointers in her four years at Ball State, threw up a shot as time expired, the shot clanking off the rim.
Ball State shooting percentage: 23.1 percent (15-65)
Purdue shooting percentage: 36.8 percent (21-57)
Ball State 3-point percentage: 13.3 percent (2-15)
Purdue 3-point percentage: 42.1 percent (8-19)
It was that kind of day for the Cardinals (5-3) in the 54-42 loss to the Boilermakers (7-4) Dec. 8.
"There's no moral victories, but truth be told, you rebound the ball like we did, we held them to 36 percent, we didn't do a bad job there," head coach Brady Sallee said. "We didn't turn the ball over. We just couldn't make shots."
Ball State finished the game with more rebounds (45-44), more points in the paint (18-14) and fewer turnovers (14-13), but the shots just wouldn't fall. The Cardinals entered the game with the 11th-best shooting percentage in the country (48.6 percent) but only hit 23.1 of their shots.
"I don't think it's because we had an off night," Sallee said. "I think it's because Purdue and their plan made us look like we did tonight."
Purdue focused its defense on senior guard Jill Morrison and junior forward Moriah Monaco, Ball State's primary deep threats. Boilermakers senior point guard Ashley Morrissette played a big role in keeping Morrison 0-6 from three.
"As a staff we were really impressed by what Morrissette did, because she was really disciplined on [Morrison]," Sallee said. "She was everywhere [Morrison] went and she didn't have any big breakdowns. As a coach, you want you seniors to defend on that level so I'm sure [Purdue head coach Sharon Versyp]'s really happy with that."
Bennett led the Cardinals with 16 points and was 6-18 shooting — the 33.3 percent clip also leading the team.
"[We] kinda figured that they would really be out on our shooters a lot, [Monaco and Morrison], so whenever you get it in there just got to be strong and go to the hoop," Bennett said. "Sometimes it worked out, sometimes it didn't. It's definitely something to go back and work on during practice."
Although Ball State lost, the crowd of 2,510 was the largest women's basketball crowd in Worthen Arena since the 2014-15 season, when 3,425 people showed up to watch the Cardinals take on Ohio Jan. 24, 2015.
"I love this series," Sallee said. "I really do, I think it's great for us [but] we've gotta be a better opponent and start winning some of these daggone things."
Purdue has now won the last 16 meetings between the two schools and is 18-5 all-time against Ball State.
"It means a little bit more and you've got some familiarity with the other team," Sallee said. "But I do, I love this game every year. I love going back down there and they do a great job. We're going to keep trying to find a way to break through and win one of these, one of these days."
Ball State will be back in action 3 p.m. Dec. 11 against Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan.