WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Senior Night arrives for Cardinals

McDonals, Gratton to be honored

Senior Night marks the end of the regular season and sparks a celebration.
Audrey McDonald and Danielle Gratton will be honored and their contributions to the Ball State University women's basketball program will be recognized.

McDonald has played more minutes in a Cardinals' uniform than anyone else in the history of the program and holds both the Mid-American Conference and school record for 3-pointers in a career.

Gratton was instrumental in Ball State's MAC Tournament wins and the upset of the University of Tennessee in last season's NCAA Tournament.
Tonight's final MAC contest pits Ball State (12-16, 6-9 MAC) against Central Michigan University (11-16, 8-7).

Central Michigan enters the final night of the regular season sitting in third place in the MAC West division. While Ball State can't leap frog Central Michigan, it can secure the seventh seed in the MAC Tournament with a win and a Miami University loss.

On paper, the odds may be in the Cardinals favor.

Even though the Chippewas defeated the Cardinals 87-80 in Mt. Pleasant, Mich., they have struggled on the road. Central Michigan is just 1-6 in conference road games this season and 2-11 overall away from Rose Arena.

Ball State is 8-5 at home, including a 4-3 mark in MAC play.
Regardless of the outcome, Ball State has already secured a home first round MAC Tournament game Saturday.

A week ago it was McDonald providing the offense to help Ball State to a win against Northern Illinois University. McDonald, who is second on the team in scoring with 12.3 points a game, went off for 26 in her previous effort at Worthen Arena.

Gratton, on the other hand, has had a rough senior season. Hampered with a foot injury, Gratton enters her final regular season home game averaging 8.5 points a game. She also helps on the boards, pulling down five rebounds a game.

Junior forward Emily Maggert could be the key in the matchup with Central Michigan. Maggert, who has 21 career double-doubles with 18 being from this season, averages 17.7 points a game and 11 boards.

That firepower will be needed to overcome the Chippewas trio of Shonda Long, Britni Houghton and Kaihla Szunko. All three average double-digits with Szunko just off the pace for averaging a double-double; Long averages 15.2 points a game while Houghton adds 14.3. Szunko puts up 11.8 points a game while pulling down 9.4 rebounds.

Stopping the trio may be crucial for the Cardinals to pull out the win, but the Chippewas do have other offensive options. Skylar Miller scored 20 in the previous meeting, while Stefanie Mauk added 12.

In all, six Chippewas scored in the January meeting with five of them putting up double-digits.