CLEVELAND - The Ball State University women's basketball team is now one win away from the program's first-ever MAC Championship title and NCAA Tournament birth.
The Cardinals defeated the University at Buffalo 68-54 today to advance to tomorrow afternoon's Mid-American Conference Championship game against Bowling Green State University at Quicken Loans Arena.
The appearance in the MAC Championship marks the first since 2007 for Ball State, when the Falcons defeated the Cardinals 67-53.
The Cardinals (24-8), which led 34-12 at halftime, had to withstand a comeback effort from the underdog Bulls (8-24, 2-14 MAC), which shot 15-for-35 (.424) in the second half compared to 3-for-22 (.137) in the first half.
Junior forward Danielle Gratton had a team-high 14 points to go with six rebounds, two steals and a game-high four blocks. Junior guard Audrey McDonald had 10 points and four assists, while senior guard Porchia Green had eight points, a team-high seven rebounds two assists and a game-best three steals.
For Buffalo, sophomore guard Kourtney Brown turned a 1-for-5, two-point shooting performance in the first half into a 7-for-7, 19-point triumph in the second half to finish with a game-high 21 points. The Second Team All-MAC selection, who had a career-high 31 points in Ball State's 83-62 win at Buffalo on Feb. 8, added two blocks and two steals.
The Cardinals had 12 players play at least three minutes in the game, as the Ball State bench outscored Buffalo's 23-11. It was also 16 Buffalo turnovers that led to a 17-4 Ball State scoring advantage off turnovers.
MAC East Division No. 1 seed Bowling Green (28-3, 15-1 MAC) advanced today by defeating West No. 2 seed University of Toledo 79-66. The Falcons defeated the Cardinals 76-67 at Bowling Green on Feb. 3.
Tomorrow's championship game is set for 1 p.m. in Quicken Loans Arena.
For continuing coverage of the women's basketball team's quest for the MAC title, check back with bsudailynews.com.