WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Cards look for winning record in MAC

Win gives BSU 4-0 record at home in conference play

After a 69-65 victory in overtime against Mid-American Conference leader Kent State on Saturday, Ball State looks to stretch its good fortunes when it hosts MAC East opponent Miami University tonight at 7 p.m. in Worthen Arena.

Ball State (8-11, 3-3 MAC) has won three of its last four contests. The Cardinals have been tough on their home floor during MAC play this season, supporting a perfect 3-0 record.

At this point of the season, playing at home couldn't mean more to a team than Coach Kelly Packard's Cardinals.

"This can be a tough time of a season for a lot of teams," Packard said. "You've been at it for 19 to 20 games. For us to be able to have this amount of home games this time of the season has been such an advantage."

The RedHawks (10-9, 2-4 MAC) are riding a two-game skid, losing 69-56 at home to Ohio and 74-61 on the road to Northern Illinois. Though its roster features no seniors, Miami leans on a few underclassmen.

Sophomore guard Courtney Osborn averages just over 16 points per game, while classmate forward Kirsten Olowinski is shooting a team-best .494 percent from the field.

The Cardinals have the experience and leadership of senior captains Ty'Ronda Benning and Emily Maggert. Benning has been on fire, scoring 22 points versus Kent State, while Maggert rediscovered her physical mentality, coming down with 13 boards.

The Cardinals know what to expect from their opponent, but knowing and following through are two very different things.

"They're very predictable in what they're going to run offensively," Packard said. "[Coach] Maria Fantanarosa does a great job of teaching her system. They're patient, very patient, in what they're looking for and good at it."

Packard said her team has to be consistent with the offensive pressure from Miami.

"Even though you know what they're going to do, they put you in a position defensively where it's a matter of how consistent can you be at defending what they're going to do," Packard said.

Some familiar concepts will decide if Ball State comes out victorious. Packard stressed the importance of physically stopping the movement Miami likes to do in the offensive sets, as well as manning the boards on both ends of the floor.

"Run the basketball, confidence in our own building and the willingness to be physical," Packard said.

Another home game for Ball State means another opportunity to strengthen its record as January draws to a close.

"We have to turn the corner," Packard said. "We're right on top of February and being able to put together consecutive wins is really something that I need to get them to do. You've got to put consecutive wins together in MAC tournament."


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