WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Successful Senior Night

Cardinals send off McDonald, Gratton with win in Worthen

In their last regular season game at Worthen Arena on Tuesday night, seniors Danielle Gratton and Audrey McDonald got want they wanted: a 77–74 win against Central Michigan University. 

The Cardinals were able to overcome shooting 29 percent from the field in the first half and an eight-point deficit at halftime to beat the Chippewas in the regular season finale. The victory secured the No. 7 seed in the Mid-American Conference Tournament, which begins Saturday. Ball State will host 10th-seeded Ohio University.

But Tuesday was all about the Cardinals' seniors. 

"Senior Nights are always full of emotion and the coach's largest anxiety," coach Kelly Packard said. "I was more nervous today than anytime in my career except for Tennessee. I wanted so badly a win tonight."

Tuesday, Central Michigan jumped out to an 11-point lead in the first half and forced 12 turnovers.

"We were tentative against their zone and didn't have great ball movement," Packard said. "We were very tight. When we switched to a man offense in the second half, we got good movement and better shots. Danielle really set the tone tonight with her confidence and Audrey came with her leadership again."

The Cardinals got better looks in the second half, shooting just under 56 percent from the field and 42 percent from beyond the arc.

Packard said she believed guard Shanee' Jackson and forward Jade Barber were essential to the team's turnaround in the second half. Jackson finished with a career-high 10 points and Barber had eight points and seven rebounds in 14 minutes of action.

After the game, Gratton and McDonald, as well as Kyleigh Jones, were honored for their accomplishments at Ball State. Both Gratton and McDonald were satisfied with the win on Senior Night.

"It's the best gift I could get," McDonald said. "It's a great way to end the regular season and a great way to go into the tournament."

Gratton said the win gives the team much needed momentum heading into the first round of the MAC Tournament. McDonald is looking forward to one more game in Worthen Arena.

"It's a little weird to be playing at home [on Saturday], but I like it," McDonald said. "I would rather play at here than on the road. It's kind of like having two Senior Nights only we get honored for one."

Packard also welcomes playing the first round game at home.

"I would rather play the game here than in Cleveland or a neutral site," Packard said. "We have a good home record here and it gives us an advantage."