The Ball State women's basketball team led No. 1 ranked Connecticut by as much as five in the first half of Friday night's game before the Huskies (7-0 overall) took over and won the game 103-69.
Prior to the game, Connecticut had only trailed opponents for a total of 29 seconds for the entire season. The 10,007 fans and 17-year Huskie head coach Geno Auriemma were impressed with the way BSU competed.
"They deserve a lot of credit," Auriemma said after the game. "Ball State, Tracy Roller and her staff were well prepared. It was the best game anyone has played against us this year. This is a good win for us. People expect us to have a 25 or 30-point lead at halftime, but I expected this. We had to play a lot harder tonight. Even though I was moaning and groaning on the sidelines, I was admiring the way they played."
Trailing 7-0 off the start, the Cardinals (3-2) went on a 22-10 run to take a five-point lead midway through the first half.
Sophomore Johna Goff connected on four three pointers in a first half which saw her finish with 14 points.
"When I was watching Ball State on film, I knew they executed their offense better than any team we have played against," Auriemma said. "Those shots they knocked in during the first half were huge."
Despite the loss, Roller said the experience of playing the top-ranked team is something the team can learn a lot from.
"Our team is disappointed," Roller said. "We know that we competed and stayed with the No. 1 team in the country. We learned something for the future, something that I can't teach or simulate in practice."
Junior Tamara Bowie led Ball State with 17 points and five rebounds, while Goff finished with 16 points. Sophomore Jessica Reiter tallied 13 points and six boards, and freshman Kate Endress had 11 to round out four BSU players in double figures. Senior Shala Crook had nine assists to make her BSU's all-time career assists leader.
"Our kids do a lot of things that make us a team," Roller said. "Shala is our team leader, so her performance tonight isn't anything new for her. She sees the court so well. I need to send Coach Auriemma a thank-you card. We came here to get better. I know we got better this week because of UConn."