Junior guard Carmen Grande tries to make it to the basket during the game against Central Michigan University on Feb. 25 at Worthen Arena. Ball State will host the University of Illinois Springfield for an exhibition game on Nov. 1. Emma Rogers, DN File
Ball State responds to first loss with three straight victories
The Cardinals are looking like they have staying power.
Just a week after suffering its first loss against Central Michigan 69-65 on Dec. 30, Ball State women’s basketball (14-1, 3-1 Mid-American Conference) responded with a trifecta of wins against Miami, Bowling Green and Akron.
Those victories also have the Cardinals back in top 25 discussion. The Cardinals received votes in both the most recent Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls released earlier this week.
And as the games go by, it looks as if the loss to Central Michigan could be an outlier, as Ball State responded by beating a solid Miami team by 25 just five days later.
“Really proud of the bounce back today,” Ball State head coach Brady Sallee said after the victory over Miami. “I thought we played with the right amount of intensity and a little mad enough to come out and control the game from start to finish with our tempo.”
Junior guard Carmen Grande led the attack in the win over Miami, scoring 15 points and dishing out seven assists in 34 minutes of play. Three other Cardinals starters also reached double figures in the victory, led by senior forward Destiny Washington.
“[We need to keep] being ourselves, honestly,” Grande said. “Just having fun, running on the floor and sharing the ball.”
And three days after that win, the Cardinals went to a hostile environment at Bowling Green, controlled the lead from start to finish and hit 12-of-17 free throws in the fourth quarter to close out the 84-73 win.
Ball State shot almost 50 percent from the field in its win over the Falcons, with senior forward Moriah Monaco scoring 14 points in the victory. She had 25 in the win over Miami as well. Five different Cardinals scored in double figures in the Bowling Green victory.
The Cardinals did not let up in a potential trap game at Akron either. The Zips came in struggling in conference play, losing their first three games against Buffalo, Toledo and Ohio. But Ball State rallied from an early second quarter deficit MAC win number three and win number 14 overall on the 2017-18 season.
Now the focus moves to Buffalo, who comes to Muncie on Saturday. The Bulls look like an early challenger to Ball State in the conference at 11-3 overall and ranking number 38 in the RPI rankings, only behind the Cardinals in the conference, who stand at 24.
Next week, Ball State heads on the road for a pair of games against Toledo and Kent State on Jan. 17 and Jan. 20.
Tip-off for Saturday’s game is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Worthen Arena.