Ball State women's basketball (22-9, 13-5 Mid-American Conference) never trailed Iowa (19-14, 8-10 Big Ten) in its 77-72 victory in the first round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament.

The Cardinals scored the first points of the game and took a 2-0 lead with 9:27 left in the first quarter.

Iowa tied the game 4-4 with 8:06 left in the first, but Ball State regained the lead after freshman guard Carmen Grande hit a 3-point shot 20 seconds later to give the Cardinals the lead for good. 

Game Statistics

Ball State shooting: 27-63 (42.9 percent)

Iowa shooting: 26-61 (42.6 percent)

Ball State free throws: 18-24 (75.0 percent)

Iowa free throws: 13-19 (68.4 percent)

Ball State rebounds: 41

Iowa rebounds: 39

Senior guard Nathalie Fontaine paced the Cardinals with 24 points and 11 rebounds, her seventh consecutive double-double and 19th of the season. She hit 10 of her 24 shots from the floor and converted four of six free-throw attempts.

Grande recorded her third straight game with double-digit points, scoring 16.

Sophomore forward Moriah Monaco also scored 16 behind a 4-7 performance from beyond the arc.

Iowa was led by freshman forward Megan Gustafson, who also recorded a double-double with 22 points and 12 rebounds.

Ball State's lead shrunk to 2 points at 72-70 with 56 seconds left in the game, but the Cardinals held on to win.

The Cardinals will take on the University of St. Louis in the second round of the WNIT at 8 p.m. March 21 in St. Louis.