Ball State downs Marshall despite pace

The Cardinal defense held Marshall to only 10 points in the first 15 minutes of play.

Playing a slow tempo is not something for which the women's basketball team is known. In fact, its fast-paced, emotional play is becoming a Cardinal trademark.

But on Saturday, Marshall brought its "slow" game to Worthen Arena, walking the ball up the floor and using almost the entire 30-second shot clock on every possession. Despite the pace of play, Ball State was still able to put together a 50-42 victory.

"For us, we knew Marshall would try to take us out of our game," said first-year Ball State head coach Tracy Roller. "I was hoping our team would not let it happen. This was a very uncharacteristic game for our team. We pride ourselves on playing with emotion and Marshall took that from us today. To their credit and game plan, they took the fun right out of us."

Ball State (10-3 overall, 1-1 Mid-American Conference), which entered Saturday's game as the top offensive team in the league and ranked among the top 15 in scoring in the nation, jumped out to an early 14-4 lead behind the offense of junior Tamara Bowie and freshman Kate Endress. The Cardinals led by as much as 14 points before a layup from the Herds' Catie Knable with 10 seconds in the first half made the score 26-14 at the break.

The standout statistic for the Cardinals was their defense, which held the Thundering Herd (4-8, 0-2) to only 10 points in the first 15 minutes of play.

"When we have no emotion combined with not hitting shots, we become a very tentative team," Roller said. "I think we learned today that we still have to do the things that make us winners. This was not a typical game for us. We will watch the film and try to figure out why."

The second half saw more of the same for the Cards as they had a quick start that was met with stiff defense after Ball State built a 20-point lead by the 18:13 mark.

Nonetheless, Marshall controlled the ball and whittled away at the Ball State lead, but never got close enough to get a win.

Ball State's lead never fell below double digits until a bucket by Ida Dotson made the score 48-40 with 51 seconds to play. A pair of free throws from Amy Zercher pushed the lead back to 10 at 50-40 with 40 seconds remaining. A layup from MU's Amy Reed with six seconds accounted for the final score of 50-42.

Zercher, who returned to the lineup Dec. 17 after missing six games with an MCL sprain, played a season-high 27 minutes and paced the Cards with 13 points and seven rebounds.

"The return of Amy Zercher means so much to this team," Roller said. "To have her on the floor, doing the little things like diving for loose balls and rebounding brings a whole new dimension to this team that we need. I also thought Kate Endress hit two big shots late in the game and her leadership as a freshman was huge today."

Upcoming games

Tuesday, January 8

Central Michigan at Buffalo, 7 p.m.

Wednesday, January 9

Eastern Michigan at Western Michigan, 7 p.m.
Miami at Akron, 7 p.m.
Ohio at Marshall, 7 p.m.
Northern Illinois at Bowling Green, 7 p.m.
Toledo at Kent State, 7 p.m.

Saturday, January 12

Ball State at Northern Illinois, 2:05 p.m.
Buffalo at Bowling Green, 1 p.m.
Central Michigan at Kent State, 2 p.m.
Eastern Michigan at Toledo, 4:30 p.m.
Miami at Ohio, 3 p.m.
Western Michigan at Marshall, 5 p.m.


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