WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Slow start to second half dooms Cardinals

Team committs 27 turnovers, Hitchens returns from suspension

After missing the first two games of the season due to a two-game suspension for violating team rules, sophomore forward Jazmin Hitchens made her season debut Wednesday night against Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Despite a slow start, Hitchens found her groove as the first half came to a close. With just over 3 1/2 minutes remaining, Hitchens emerged from the Cardinals' bench and re-entered the game as a substitute when the scoring surge began.

It began with a long 3-point field goal to draw the Cardinals within four points. A pair of jump shots followed and Hitchens had her team within two points as the first half expired.

"That's obviously a positive," coach Kelly Packard said. "We're certainly trying to put some pieces together and figure out where we're going to be able to get some scoring from and someone to compliment Brittany Carter. Her overall stat line is encouraging."

Unfortunately, the sudden scoring burst wasn't enough, as Ball State couldn't contain SIUE's offense in what resulted in a 68-56 loss for the visiting team.

The Cougars outplayed the Cardinals in the second half, scoring 10 more points than its opposition. While the offense stalled, the Cardinals didn't help themselves with sloppy play, which included 27 total turnovers.

"It's really difficult to win any ball game with 27 turnovers," Packard said. "Certainly when you're on the road, that many errors is the loss of that many opportunities to score."

After leading the Cardinals in scoring in each of the first two games, freshman guard Carter totaled nine points and two blocks, including a stop on Jazmin Hill's 3-point field goal attempt with 2:36 left in the first half.

Sophomore Brandy Woody took steps in the right direction, scoring 12 points against the Cougars.

Frustrated, Packard acknowledged the need to improve on fundamentals following the loss.

"We're really going to have to trim down the amount of errors that we have so we get more opportunities to shoot the basketball and get possession," Packard said.