In her first game as head coach, Tracy Roller was anxious to see how her team would compete. After a solid 89 to 54 defeat of Wright State Friday night in Worthen Arena, the women's basketball team made it clear to Roller they could do that.
Sophomore Johna Goff scored 24 points and had five steals, and three other Cardinals scored in double figures in the opener which saw BSU outscore its opponents 53 to 25 in the second half.
After a first half which saw the team shoot just 32 percent, the Cardinals were still up seven going into the break. Roller thinks that although the offense was not clicking fully the first 20 minutes, the team did a great job of doing what it had to do to stay close.
"We kept us in it the first half," Roller said. "I thought we played two really good halves defensively. I knew we'd start hitting shots. We've got so many weapons. They can't stop everybody."
Defense was a major factor for the Cards - they tallied 17 steals and forced 32 turnovers.
"Our coaches told us they weren't good ball handlers and to pressure them a lot," senior guard Shala Crook said. "Once we started doing that we realized they really couldn't handle the ball and they were turning it over, so we kept pressuring them."
Crook finished the game with 8 points, but more importantly, 8 assists and four steals.
Trailing 14-11 with just over 12 minutes to play in the first half, BSU took advantage of 3-pointers by Goff and freshman Kate Endress to key a 10-0 run and hold Wright State scoreless for nearly six minutes.
Another Goff trey with :09 left in the half gave Ball State the seven-point locker room advantage.
"I just kept letting it fly and it went in," Goff said after going four for nine from behind the arc. "I lost my confidence for a little while, but it's back. It doesn't go anywhere for very long."
Up 44 to 34 with 13:27 remaining, two consecutive steals by Crook led to fast-break lay-ups to put the Cards up 15. They would only increase that margin.
"I wouldn't want these two guarding me, I know that," Roller said about Crook and Goff. "They did a great job defensively."
Sophomore Jessica Reiter scored all of her 12 points in the final 11:11, and junior Tamara Bowie scored nine points in the second half to help increase the lead. Julie Just also hit two threes with under four minutes to go to help increase the lead above 30.
Bowie and Reiter combined for 19 rebounds, helping lead BSU to a 47 to 36 advantage on the glass.
"It felt really awesome," Roller said. "I was really proud of our effort. When I can home and feel like we played good defense and had good effort, I'm going to sleep well.
"We're just hard to guard and match up against. We have post players, 3- point shooting and inside-out games. We're 10 deep right now."