Shala Crook gets surprise wedding proposal after victory

After Ball State's women's basketball game ended in a 80-58 rout of Central Michigan Saturday, most of the 1,107 present at Worthen Arena rose to their feet to acknowledge the Cardinals victory and the play of seniors Shala Crook and Amy Fuller -- who had just completed the final home game of their collegiate careers.

The crowd, however, fell silent when Crook's tuxedo-clad boyfriend of two years, Edwin Jones, walked to center court, took the microphone into his hands and began to speak.

"Shala, we've been together almost two years (and) it's been the most exciting two years of my life," Jones said. "You're the nuts and bolts of this team (and) you're the nuts and bolts of our relationship ... I'm here today to ask if you'll marry me."

Crook shook her head to say "yes" and the couple embraced to roaring applause.

Moments after Crook agreed, the couple was rushed by members of Ball State's men's and women's basketball teams, resulting in a mid-court celebration that more closely resembled the aftermath of an NCAA tourney win than an engagement.

Ball State head coach Tracy Roller said that although she knew about Jones' plan three weeks in advance, she wasn't sure if he could pull it off.

"(Jones) did a great job," Roller said. "I never thought I'd have a player married before me on the team and a player engaged before me on the team -- I'm starting to get a little desperate."

Crook said she had no idea Jones was going to pop the question after the game.

"I just started bawling," Crook said. "I didn't know what to do; senior night and the last home game and now this."

The surprise announcement came after Crook spent the majority of the afternoon wowing fans with three no-look passes that culminated in a behind-the-back fake that led to an easy layup with 13:22 remaining in the second half.

According to Crook, however, the play was accidental.

"I was looking for Kate (Endress) and I didn't know what happened," Crook said. "(The ball) kind of got stuck. The girl just stood there, she didn't even try to defend and I just went up with it."

Crook tallied her first assist just over a minute into the game in high fashion after she forced a turnover, drove the lane and hit Tamara Bowie with a no-look pass for an easy layup.

Crook's hot play would continue, as throughout the game her teammates singled she and fellow senior Amy Fuller out for special treatment.

"I kind of had a little thing going on with my teammates," Crook said. "It was senior night and they were letting me shoot."

The guard attempted 16 shots, connecting on six. She finished the game with 14 points, five assists and three steals, leading a defense that pressed early and wore down Central Michigan's starters.

After the game, Central Michigan head coach Eileen Kleinfelter praised Crook's quickness and aggressive play.

"(I) saw a few fancy passes here today," Kleinfelter said. "And (the defensive pressure) took us out of some quick hit plays."

Roller echoed Kleinfelter's comments.

"There were times when I would just watch," Roller said. "She's just so fun to watch, and I don't even know how we're going to try to replace her."


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