Ball State Women’s Basketball (1-3, 0-0 MAC) battled until the end, but it wasn’t enough as it fell short to Fordham (2-3, 0-0 Atlantic 10) in the first round of the Gulf Coast Showcase, 78-70.

It was a tale of two halves to begin the tournament. The Cardinals started the game getting whatever they wanted on the offensive end, shooting 8 for 12 from the field in the first quarter including 2 for 3 from behind the 3-point line. Ball State ended the first period with a 20-13 lead. 

The Cardinals kept the momentum going in the second quarter and finished the first half shooting 65 percent from the field and 50 percent from behind the arc. The Cardinals also performed well in the paint in the first half, scoring 24 points down low.

Ball State’s 41 points in the first half was the highest-scoring half of the season for the Cardinals. They went into halftime with a nine-point lead. 

Fordham was able to take over in the third quarter. Just a few minutes in, the Rams locked up on defense and held the Cardinals scoreless in the final 6:13 of the quarter. 

“You have to give them credit,” Ball State head coach Brady Sallee said. “They amped up the defense a little bit and made it tough for us to score.”

Fordham capitalized on Ball State’s struggles and went on an 11-0 run to end the third quarter. The Rams outscored the Cardinals 21-7, giving Fordham a 53-48 lead by the end of the period. 

However, the Cardinals showed life in the fourth quarter and were able to take the lead back after a solid offensive performance from freshman guard Abi Haynes. She was able to knock down two 3-pointers in the quarter and make 2 of 3 free throws to give Ball State a 68-67 lead. 

It didn’t last long as Fordham guard Bre Cavanaugh came down court and drilled a 3-pointer to give the Rams the lead, which would lead to their victory. 

“I think we executed beautifully to get back in it and take the lead,” Sallee said. “There at the end, I thought that this situation is going to help us in the long run.” 

Haynes finished with a career-high 12 points. Junior forward Oshlynn Brown also added 12 points and recorded a double-double, grabbing 11 rebounds. 

“The big thing I liked was that [Haynes] was able to play extended minutes and played them well,” Sallee said. “We kind of just went with her, and she was making some plays and stepped up and played through some fatigue. We aren’t used to 12 points out of that position, so we will definitely take it.”

Ball State ended the game shooting 51 percent from the field as a team and 38 percent from the 3-point line.

The Cardinals will be back in action Saturday against the loser of the Duke and Washington game. 

Contact Daric Clemens with any comments at or on Twitter @DClemens.