With 5:38 left in the third quarter of Ball State’s 88-53 win over Chicago State, junior forward Moriah Monaco hit the floor.

The Cardinals were up 54-24, and the ball was bouncing toward the right sideline after an errant Chicago State pass. She could have let it go, but she dove anyway.

She didn’t get the ball, but she popped right back up.

Ball State leading scorers

Renee Bennett: 18 points

Destiny Washington: 18 points

Moriah Monaco: 16 points

Calyn Hosea: 11 points

Aliyah Walker: 10 points

“I mean that’s who we are,” Monaco said. “So to not dive on that, somebody probably should’ve punched me in the face.”

That physicality and drive applied to the entire Ball State offense, as the Cardinals (4-2) outscored the Cougars (0-7) 70-16 in the paint. Monaco scored 16 points and was the only player to score from outside the paint, knocking down three 3-pointers.

Senior center Renee Bennett and sophomore guard Destiny Washington, however, tied for the team lead with 18 points each — all scored in the paint, aside from two free throws from Bennett.

“It’s a real understanding of where our bread’s buttered and we understand what it is we do. But more than just throwing it in the post, it was offensive rebounds, it was transition, it was driving it to the rim,” said head coach Brady Sallee before looking at Washington and delivering a trademark barb. “Even against the zone, driving it to the rim, right? Remember that one?”

Washington, starting for injured senior guard Jill Morrison, added 12 rebounds for her second double-double of the season.

“The thing with Des, I think she just wants to play. She kind of gets out there and bubbles with enthusiasm and she’s just always around the ball,” Sallee said, before cracking another joke. “It’s a lot of fun to coach her and I’m sure she thinks it’s a lot of fun to be coached by me all the time.”

Ball State outrebounded Chicago State 43-26, and held Sh’Toya Sanders and Kaylee Allen — Chicago State’s two leading scorers entering the game — to a combined 15 points on 4-21 shooting. The Cardinals racked up 14 steals, with Monaco and Washington each recording four.

“I thought it was huge because getting steals and playing from the defense to offense always gets us more excited,” Monaco said.

The bench even got in on the action, with freshman forward Aliyah Walker scoring 10 points in eight minutes. Although the lopsided score allowed for more playing time, Sallee tried to expand the rotation as early as the first quarter.

But even when the starters were in, he required full effort from his team.

“I mean, I tell them all the time — you don’t play to the scoreboard, you play to the name on the front of your jersey,” Sallee said. “And [Monaco] said it, that’s who we are and what you do.”

The Cardinals will be back in action at 1 p.m. Dec. 4 at Butler.