Duke (3-2, 0-0 ACC) tops Ball State Women’s Basketball (1-4, 0-0 MAC) in its third meeting in program history, but the game saw the Cardinals best performance of the three against the Blue Devils.
While the Cardinals fell short in points, they saw small victories in many categories. Forcing 29 Blue Devil turnovers and maintaining 74 percent from the free-throw line, the Cardinals are on the track of improvement.
“The first half got away from us and I think part of it was our frustration with missed shots,” head coach Brady Sallee said. “We came out really physical in the second half, but it was hard to come back after we dug that hole.”
Duke grabbed a quick lead at 8-2, but it was sophomore guard Maliah Howard-Bass, posting an early five points and two rebounds, that would keep the Cardinals in the first quarter. The Cardinals managed to tie the quarter at 13, but it didn’t take long for the Blue Devils to find their groove from the field. They regained the lead at 21-13.
“That’s really what Maliah does for us is make shots,” Sallee said. “She’s got a lot of capabilities everywhere else, too. She really applied the pressure on defense today, as well.”
The Blue Devil lead continued at 26-15 early in the second quarter and junior Haley Gorecki recorded eight points in the first half. They quickly pushed their lead to 44-27, after freshman Miela Goodchild continued to add points for the Blue Devils, tallying 13 by the end of the quarter.
While the Blue Devils were able to register 41 points in two quarters, the Cardinal defense was strong and forced 10 turnovers from the Blue Devils’ end, four of which were travels from junior Leaonna Odom. While she has averaged 18 points per game throughout the early part of the season, the Cardinals were able to hold her to three in the first half.
The Cardinals were only 5-25 from three, while the Blue Devils posted eight for 18; however, the Cardinals ability to force turnovers kept them in the game.
Howard-Bass continued to be a driving force on the Cardinal offense, registering 11 points, nine of which were from behind the arc. Despite the Cardinals’ solid defensive performance, their 33 percent from the field saw the Blue Devils maintain a 14-point lead at the end of the third, 61-47.
Although they continued to fight with a full-court press throughout the fourth quarter, Gorecki made the difference for the Blue Devils, recording 19 points, and the final score was in their favor at 79-62. Gorecki was followed in points by Goodchild and Odom who each posted 13. Odom also grabbed nine rebounds.
“We just have to fight and not get ourselves in a hole like we did today,” Sallee said. “We have a lot of toughness, but we just need to worry about what we’re doing and how much better we’re getting because we’re really making strides.”
Leading the way for the Cardinals was Howard-Bass with 11, followed by freshman Anna Clephane with nine and freshman Blake Smith with a career-high of eight. Sophomore Oshlynn Brown led in rebounds with 10.