WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Ball State shows it can win close games early in the season

Coach says early tests will help in conference play

Ball State's 61-58 victory against Evansville on Saturday night showed again that the team can win close games.

Both of the Cardinals (2-2) victories this season have been by three points or fewer, coming down to the final seconds.

Coach Kelly Packard said these early tests are preparing Ball State for what lies ahead.

"Do I love these tight finishes? No," Packard said. "But does it get this group ready for conference play? Yes. I'm taking growth towards the [Mid-American Conference] season."

Senior forward Emily Maggert said depth on the bench has been a factor so far.

"We are so deep," Maggert said. "Everyone has come in and contributed. We are deep, and it's going to help later on."

The strongest defensive effort from her team through four games, Packard said, came on Saturday night.

As expected, Maggert has been automatic every game, Packard said.

"Emily brings us peace," Packard said. "She's just a settled force for us. When she's on the floor, we feel comfortable, because we know we can touch her in the post. We know a lot of our sets are geared around Emily. We know if she gets fouled, it's usually money in the bank."

Freshman point guard Brandy Woody has also drawn a lot of attention from her coach. Woody has played 113 minutes, giving her the third-highest total on the team. Woody has scored 22 points — 5.5 per game — for the Cardinals.

With the amount of responsibility on the freshman's shoulders, Packard does not want Woody to hold anything back.

"I don't want her to play cautiously," Packard said. "You talk about swallowing a load of responsibility and walking through it, and probably making people check their roster to see if she's a sophomore or junior."

Ball State played four games in eight days to open the season, which has caused some late-game breakdowns within her team.

"The whole fatigue factor," Packard said. "With playing this many games, you have to mentally fight through the fatigue."

Ball State will play its next game Wednesday at Valparaiso before getting a week off.


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