Missouri sophmore, Shameka Ealy, watches senior forward Moriah Monaco attempt a 3-pointer on Nov. 13 in John E. Worthen Arena. Monaco led the team with 21 points. Andrea Cooper, DN
Ball State women's basketball outlasts Purdue in defensive battle
It wasn't the usual way Ball State wins.
It didn't feature the high-powered offense that came in averaging over 82 points per game or its high-octane pace of play.
Instead, for 40 minutes, Ball State (7-0) pressured the Purdue (5-4) offense into 18 turnovers and its worst 3-point shooting night of the season en-route to a 66-60 victory on Monday evening.
"This is a big one for us," Ball State head coach Brady Sallee said. "We're excited about it and I'm really, really happy with my crew."
Junior guard Carmen Grande scored 17 points and dished out seven assists to help lead the Ball State offense, which once again had more turnovers than assists — a common theme in each victory.
On the defensive end, it was junior guard Frannie Frazier who led the way. Frazier forced three steals while senior forward Moriah Monaco grabbed 11 rebounds to help power the Ball State defensive attack. As a team, the Cardinals forced 18 turnovers and committed just 14.
"Proud of my kids," Sallee said. "I thought we were tough. I thought we stretched it out there a little bit."
Through three quarters, Ball State had a 44-32 lead on Purdue after outscoring the Boilermakers 13-7 in the third quarter. However, in the fourth the Boilermakers would make things interesting.
Purdue shot 47.8 percent in the final frame and brought Ball State's lead down to as little as four.
But with the Ball State lead evaporating, down by just five, and the shot clock running out with under three minutes to play, Grande lifted a prayer from 40-feet out and between two defenders which went off the backboard and in, and summarized the way things had gone all night for the Cardinals.
"You're throwing in a bank shot from 40 feet? It was our night," Sallee said. "Carmen [Grande], believe me when I tell you, she'll say she meant to bank it. That's the way she thinks. To beat Purdue in this gym you got to get lucky. You got to get some of that stuff."
After that bucket, Purdue would close the gap again. But three late free throws by Monaco, who finished with a game-high 18 points, helped seal the victory.
Purdue made just four of its 22 3-point attempts, and no Boilermaker made more than one. For Ball State, sophomore guard Jasmin Samz hit a pair of triples and the Cardinals shot 40 percent from beyond the arc, including a big 3-pointer by Monaco with under two minutes to play.
"Whether you're at a Big Ten gym or an SEC gym, or what-have-you, seeing a ball go in the net just kind of calms everybody down," Sallee said. "I thought Moriah [Monaco] gave that to us. She was our go-to, and has been our go-to. She delivered tonight and really executed some things that we haven't had in for a very long time."
Freshman guard Lamina Cooper led Purdue with 16 points on 7-of-13 shooting. Outside of Cooper, Purdue shot just 27.1 percent as a team.
For Ball State head coach Brady Sallee, there's no doubt that this has the potential to be a program-changing win.
"This win is only as good as what we do with it," Sallee said. "If we get too full of ourselves right now, then it does not end up meaning anything. If we use this as a catapult to get better, this should be a big win.
"It opens up the committee's eyes. When you're a program that goes to Vandy and Purdue and win, that should have people's attention."
The victory ends a 16-game losing streak by Ball State against Purdue dating back to 1979. It also marks Ball State's second victory over a Power Five opponent. The Cardinals took down Vanderbilt 88-79 on Nov. 20.
Next up, Ball State returns to Worthen Arena to play Southeast Missouri State on Dec. 7 at 7 p.m.