Four players with double-digit points along with a noteworthy performance from freshman Anna Clephane awarded Ball State Women’s Basketball (2-5, 0-0 MAC) with a win over Cincinnati (5-3, 0-0 American). After an 0-3 weekend in Florida, head coach Brady Sallee said this was exactly what the team needed.
“They needed to taste a win,” Sallee said. “They’ve been working their tails off. They came out and earned it today, and that’s the best kind of win.”
Trailing early in the first quarter, the Cardinals stayed the course and grabbed a 12-11 lead after a put-back jumper followed by a three, both from sophomore Maliah Howard-Bass. Courtesy of Florence Sifa, the Bearcats regained the lead to end the first quarter in their favor, 21-20.
Clephane found her groove early, racking up 12 points in the first half and going 7 for 8 from the free-throw line.
“Transitioning from high school to college is a big step, and I wasn’t extremely confident coming into this season,” Clephane said. “I’ve grown a lot this season in terms of my basketball IQ, and playing against these strong teams has really forced me to grow in all aspects of the game.”
Clephane ended the night with 22 points and nine rebounds, both season highs for the forward. She said the game boosted her confidence, but she was more proud of the team effort.
“Our team is a team where it doesn’t matter who’s scoring as long as we’re getting the points,” Clephane said. “Like coach [Sallee] said, this is a great win because we’ve been working so hard for such a long time.”
With a couple of obstacles along the way, visible in a Bearcat lead and five team fouls, the Cardinals remained focused and ended the first half with a 38-26 lead.
They didn’t let their diligence expire. The Cardinals shot 92 percent from the free-throw line and scored eight of their points as a result of Bearcat turnovers. Ball State entered the second half hot with threes from senior Nakeya Penny and freshman Thelma Dis Agustsdottir.
“It’s good when you have balance, and the way that we shared the ball was great to see,” Sallee said. “Nakeya had good points, and while [Jasmin Samz] only had four, she really led our team tonight at the point.”
The Bearcats were unable to overcome the Cardinals’ momentum throughout the fourth quarter, never cutting the Cardinal lead below double-digits. The Cardinals took their second win of the season by a score of 75-63.
“Our defense was really effective in keeping them off balance,” Sallee said. “We stuck to our game plan about as well as we have all year. This was a team that could have given us fits with their athleticism, but to dominate the points in the paint like we did says a lot about what we’re able to do.”