In its first exhibition game, the women's basketball team used a 57-35 second-half advantage to overcome a sluggish first half and defeat RTU Klondaika 95-77 Thursday night in Worthen Arena.
The Cardinals struggled early on, going down by as many as 10 in a first half which BSU sank just 13 of 48 field goals. That, combined with the the Latvian team shooting 49 percent, led to some problems for first-year head coach Tracy Roller and her squad.
"They didn't look like they got any jet lag whatsoever," Roller said. "They were on fire. We came out tough and really played hard, but we were a little nervous. That's why we play exhibition games."
Down 30-20 with 8:37 remaining in the first half, sophomore Julie Just canned one of her three shots from behind the arc to ignite a 7-0 BSU run. RTU Klondaika struck back, going up 39-29 behind the shooting of Anete Jekabsone, who finished with a game-high 31 points and nine assists.
"When you got it, you got it," senior point guard Shala Crook said about Jekabsone. "We just needed to contain her. You can't stop her, but we stopped everybody else."
The Cards charged back once again, this time with help coming from freshman Kate Endress, who scored five of the team's nine points to end the half.
Coming out of the locker room trailing 42-38, the cards began to play into Ball State's favor.
Junior Amy Zercher, who had just two points on 1-5 shooting in the first half, didn't waste any time, draining a three just 19 seconds into the half.
But hot shooting continued from the opposition, with 6'6" center Zane Teilane scoring six points in the next four minutes. Teilane finished the game with 11 points and 13 rebounds.
The Cardinals took their first lead of the game at 56-53 on a three by sophomore Jessica Reiter that capped off a 18-11 run with 15:37 remaining.
The team wouldn't relinquish the advantage the rest of the night.
"I was very impressed with the team we played," Roller said. "When we start hitting, things come into play. In the second half, we did a much better job of hitting our shots and getting back on defense."
Crook's second layup in a row with 14:20 left gave the Cards a 60-55 advantage. Crook finished with 12 points and four assists.
"This is our home court and we're comfortable here," Crook said. "We wanted to make a statement. Every day we get better."
Up by only six with 7:53 remaining, Ball State used two quick hoops by senior Amy Fuller to key a 9-0 run that put the game out of reach.
Reiter led the Cards with 16 points, while sophomore Johna Goff ended with a quiet 15. Fuller and junior Tamara Bowie each finished with 12 points. Bowie also grabbed a team-high 13 rebounds and had four steals.
"Any time you come into a game, everyone is going to be after us this year. We have expectations on us this year. We're all new, and to get our feet wet is important. It was huge for us to see that we can hold teams when we really want to play hard."