Renee Bennett, Jill Morrison and Calyn Hosea played their final games for Ball State women's basketball Thursday night.

The three seniors' careers came to an end as Ball State lost to Indiana 71-58.

Bennett and Morrison each topped 1,000 points in their four seasons at Ball State, and Hosea was named to the Mid-American Conference All-Defensive team this year.

Ball State statistics

Shooting: 25-64 (39.1 percent)

3-point shooting: 4-14 (28.6 percent)

Fouls: 19

Leading scorer: Moriah Monaco (17 points)

Indiana statistics

Shooting: 22-51 (43.1 percent)

3-point shooting: 8-20 (40.0 percent)

Fouls: 11

Leading scorer: Tyra Buss (19 points)

"If you think about it, I mean 90 percent of my time here has had those kids on the floor," head coach Brady Sallee said. "So, yeah it'll hit me a little bit in the postseason probably, and as we step back and we think about this, but you can't — in an interview — sum up what those three mean to the program."

The loss eliminated the Cardinals (21-11, 14-4 MAC) from the Women's National Invitation Tournament, but Sallee wants his team to know that doesn't mean the season was a failure.

"The thing you want to make sure you team understands is that they earned this," Sallee said. "They earned the opportunity to be on this stage and not everybody gets to do that."

The Cardinals fell behind early as the Hoosiers (21-10, 10-6 Big Ten) jumped out to an 18-4 lead before leading 28-12 at the end of the first quarter. Ball State outscored IU 46-43 in the final three quarters, but it wasn't enough.

"You go back to that first quarter and, boy, it's awfully tough on a Big Ten floor to overcome that," Sallee said.

Ball State pulled within eight points after junior forward Moriah Monaco, who led the team with 17 points, hit a 3-pointer with 3:42 left in the fourth quarter to cut IU's lead to 62-54.

But, just like every other time the Cardinals cut it close, the Hoosiers pulled away again.

"I honestly think that if you can get it under 10 at any point — like 10 is a mental difference," sophomore point guard Carmen Grande said. "So we were right there, but they came back and got to 11 so that was pretty hard."

Grande finished with seven points and seven assists without recording a turnover. 

The loss eliminated the Cardinals from the Women's National Invitation Tournament, but Sallee wants his team to know that doesn't mean the season was a failure.

"The thing you want to make sure you team understands is that they earned this," Sallee said. "They earned the opportunity to be on this stage and not everybody gets to do that."

The 2017 WNIT marks the fifth consecutive season Ball State played in a postseason tournament — including all four years Bennett, Morrison and Hosea suited up for the Cardinals.

"When you run a good program, this is what you get," Sallee said. "Good players leave and you better replace them. I'm proud of the fact that we haven't a one-hit wonder."

Sallee said the trio helped put the program in a place where making the WNIT isn't the goal, but they signed on before the Cardinals had one everything. It hadn't fully hit him that they were leaving, he said but he was thankful they signed on so early, before Ball State women's basketball had won anything.

"They bought into hope."