In its last four games, Ball State women’s basketball (23-4, 12-4 MAC) had dominated its competition. Today was a different story.

In today’s game against Toledo, Ball State at one point had an 11-point lead before the game got tight toward the end of the fourth quarter. A theme that is very similar in March basketball.

“When you start playing into the end of February, these games become monumental,” head coach Brady Sallee said. “With how successful we have been this season and Toledo has been this season, we knew coming into this game it was going to be an all-out battle. This is what March basketball looks like. Every game from here on out is going to be this and maybe even tougher in a different way.”

The Cardinals looked like they were going to cruise to a win before the Rockets roared back from a 15-point deficit to eventually tie the game at 73 with 19 seconds left. Fouls would plague the Rockets, allowing the Cardinals to pull ahead for a 78-73 win.

When games start getting close for the Cardinals, the team works off of a short-term, hardworking mindset. Keeping it short and sweet is what allows the team to produce in high-pressure situations.

“All I told them was to play the next play and player tougher than you did last,” Sallee said. “Don’t worry about a make, don’t worry about a miss, don’t worry about a call, you’ve gotta be tough. When the refs were looking at the monitor 70 times in one minute, I told them whoever can play through this and not worry about it is going to be the team that wins.”

Going into the final games of the season against a powerhouse Central Michigan squad and an Eastern Michigan team that held close with the Ball State in the last meetings between the teams, the team uses close victories as experience for pressure-heavy situations to come.

“If we get into this situation again, we’ve already done it,” senior Moriah Monaco said. “You live and you learn and once you get in that situation again, we know that we’ve been there and have confidence in finishing."

Ball State will be back in action against Central Michigan Wednesday, Feb. 28. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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