Ball State (2-5, 0-0 MAC) put together an all-around performance to defeat Cincinnati (5-3, 0-0 American), 75-63. Here are five aspects from the game that were key in the Cardinals’ victory.
Nothing comes easy
Ball State’s defense caused problems all night for Cincinnati, but it realy clamped down on the Bearcat offense in the second quarter. After giving up 21 points in the first quarter, the Cardinals held the Bearcats to only five points in the second. Ball State scored eight of their 18 points in the second quarter off of turnovers.
“I was really proud of our defensive effort,” Ball State head coach Brady Sallee said. “We turned defense into offense.”
Cincinnati could not run its offense comfortably as Ball State’s defense swarmed to the ball, applying pressure as soon as the ball past midcourt.
“We mixed up some of the things that we were doing to keep them off balance,” Sallee said.
The Cardinals forced the Bearcats to commit five turnovers in just the second quarter. Cincinnati shot 2 for 10 from the field and 0 for 4 from the 3-point line.
Sharing the ball
Scoring was not a problem for Ball State as they received contribution from all positions. Four Cardinals were able to put up double-digit points, led by freshman guard Anna Clephane with 22. Senior guard Nakeya Penny and sophomore forward Oshlynn Brown each added 14 points, and sophomore guard Maliah Howard-Bass recorded 11.
“Our team is a team that it doesn’t really matter who scores and who gets the points as long as we are doing well,” Clephane said.
Ball State’s ball movement created a lot of open shots for other teammates, and the Cardinals showed unselfish play, dishing out 16 team assists; their season average is 12.7 per game.
“We have a lot of confidence across the board on our team to just take the open shot and not really care who gets it,” Sallee said.
Ball State took control of the paint on the offensive end and continued to get the ball inside. The Cardinals scored 40 of their 75 points in the paint. Their inside game was efficient, shooting 22 of 38 from inside the 3-point line. Sallee said the team could win a lot of games if it scores points in the paint the way it did Wednesday.
“When you got a player like [Clephane] that can turn the corner and get it to the rim so well it helps [scoring points in the paint].”
The Clephane show
Clephane was aggressive on the offensive end as she scored most of her points attacking the basket. Her 22 points was a season-high, and she shot the ball well, making 7 of 14 attempts from the field. She also made 9 of 11 from the free-throw line. She led the team in rebounds with nine. Clephane said she feels she has grown a lot from when she first came in and believes she’s showing it with her IQ on the court.
“The team and coaches have been pushing me to be more of a scorer and really get in there and show what I can do on the boards,” Clephane said.
Make the freebies count
The Cardinals made the Bearcats pay for sending them to the line. Ball State started off the game a perfect 11 of 11 from the free-throw line to help build on to their lead. They finished the game shooting 79.2 percent from the line, making 19 of 24 attempts. The Cardinals came into the game shooting around 58 percent as a team.