Ball State center Renee Bennett prepares to shoot a layup in the game against Purdue on Dec. 8 in Worthen Arena. The Cardinals lost 58-42. Grace Ramey // DN
RECAP: Ball State women's basketball vs. Akron
Senior center Renee Bennett, Ball State women's basketball's leading scorer of the season, didn't play a single minute in the second quarter of the Jan. 14, 80-70 win game against Akron.
And the Cardinals (11-6, 4-1 MAC) still outscored the Zips (7-9, 0-5 MAC) 31-13 in the quarter.
"To look at a second quarter and say that's where the game's won, it may sound ridiculous but that's the truth," head coach Brady Sallee said.
Ball State shooting: 31-61 (50.8 percent)
Akron shooting: 26-60 (43.3 percent)
Ball State turnovers: 15
Akron turnovers: 21
Ball State individual statistics
Jill Morrison: 16 points, 4-6 three-point shooting
Renee Bennett: 15 points, five rebounds
Carmen Grande: 13 points, 11 assists, five rebounds
Calyn Hosea: 13 points, six rebounds
Bennett, who entered the game scoring 16.3 points per game, scored five points in the first four minutes of the first quarter but was benched after her second foul. She didn't re-enter the game until the second half.
"It's definitely hard not being able to play for the whole first half of a basketball game and then trying to come out the second half and pick up where you left off," Bennett said. "But I think it was actually really easy for me to go and sit on the bench and actually have a good time doing it, and getting loud with a bunch of my teammates, because I knew that the next person coming into that game was going to have my back."
Ball State trailed its Mid-American Conference foe 20-17 after the first quarter before the Cardinals took off. Senior guard Jill Morrison scored 12 points of her team-high 16 points in the second on 4-4 shooting from beyond the arc. The posted attendance of the game was 1,015 — higher than Sallee expected after "a little bit of a squirrelly day in terms of the weather" — and Morrison said she fed off of the crowd's energy.
"Of course [I get excited], I'm psycho," she said. "But no, it's just really fun, and when you get on a roll like that it's just reinforcement."
The Cardinals' bench players took advantage of the extra playing time Bennett's foul trouble afforded them. Junior guard Frannie Frazier, sophomore guard Destiny Washington and freshman center Morgan Glatczak combined for 10 points on 5-8 shooting, seven rebounds, four assists, two blocks and two steals in the second quarter alone.
Frazier and Washington usually see a lot of playing time anyway, averaging 17.1 and 19.6 minutes per game respectively, but Glatczak has only played an average of 6.5 minutes. In nine minutes against Akron, she scored four points with three rebounds and two blocks.
"[Glatczak] was a big part of this win because that gave me the ability to not have to take a chance with Renee and get her in crazy foul trouble, and have her full-go for the second half," Sallee said.
Though she sat for most of the first half, Bennett's stat line was still similar to her season averages of 16.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. She scored 10 second-half points, all in the fourth quarter, to finish with 15 points. She also hauled in five rebounds, all in the second half.
She still thinks she could have done better.
"I think the second half I was just trying to keep playing like I have been," Bennett said. "I felt like maybe I was a little bit rushed on some of my shots and some of my free throws just because I did sit for a while, so I think just a little bit of that maybe affected me."
Four Ball State players finished with double-digit points: Morrison, Bennett, sophomore point guard Carmen Grande (13) and senior guard Calyn Hosea (13). The fifth starter, junior guard Moriah Monaco, finished with nine points, and Washington finished with eight. Grande also totaled 11 assists for her second-consecutive double-double.
Sallee was also quick to praise the team's defense and ball control. The Cardinals only turned the ball over 15 times and forced 21 turnovers from the Zips, who only averaged 16.5 turnovers before the game. Akron, the fourth-best three-point shooting team in the MAC (32.4 percent), was also limited to 27.8 percent from beyond the arc.
"It may sound weird to think we did a pretty good job on defense when they shot 43 percent, but that's how much respect I have for Akron's basketball team and their coach," Sallee said. "I do think we did a pretty good job, and they scored 70."
Sallee said the original game plan was to let Bennett, listed at six-feet-five-inches, take advantage of the mismatch in the paint against an Akron team whose tallest player is six-foot-one, but they had to adjust on the fly.
"Yeah, it'd be nice to come out and always your plan work perfectly on both ends of the floor, but the sign of a good team is when you have to go to plan B, maybe C or D and you can still keep rockin' and rollin.' I think you saw some of that today from us."
Ball State's next game is at 7 p.m. Jan. 18 against Eastern Michigan (5-12, 0-5 MAC).