WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Packard texts pre-game encouragement

Benning takes advice, scores first 10 points of the game for Ball State

Before every game, coach Kelly Packard pulls out her cell phone and scrolls down her list of contacts before stopping at a familiar one.

"Ty'Ronda [Benning] can expect a text message from me every pre-game," Packard said. "I texted her earlier today and said, ‘I just need one thing tonight. I need you to bring your energy. We'll follow it.'"

It was a career game for Ball State senior guard Ty'Ronda Benning versus Western Michigan Tuesday night in Worthen Arena. Benning scored a career high 33 points, leading the Cardinals to a 67-60 victory over the Western Michigan Broncos, and their first in the Mid-American Conference. Benning's 33 easily topped her previous career high of 22 points versus Illinois State on Dec. 20, 2009.

Packard's game plan didn't surround Benning, but a few twists and turns on a few offensive sets enabled her to explode.

"The only thing I'll take credit for is installing the flat screen yesterday," Packard said. "She's really gifted coming off a high, flat screen. You might know it's coming, but dealing with it is a whole different story. We kept on going to the flat screen in a couple of other sets where she was able to get off the dribble."

Benning scored the first 10 points for the Cardinals and was 4-of-6 from behind the arc in the first half. She finished the game connecting on 10-of-17 field goals and 6-of-10 three-point field goals. Benning said if opposing defenses don't pay attention to her, she will take advantage of it.

"If I get the ball in my hands, I'm thinking ‘push the ball for my teammates to score on transition. If not, then get a layup'. That's what I did early, and they sagged off me a few times on the three-point line, so I just shot it."

For Benning, having a career night wouldn't have mattered one way or another.

"I didn't feel any [more] pressure tonight than I have any other night," Benning said. "I just came out and played."

The pre-game text message did wonders for Packard, Benning and the rest of the Cardinals.

"From the moment when she took off, she gave us confidence, and we followed," Packard said.


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