The Gulf Coast Showcase presented challenges for Ball State Women's Basketball (1-5, 0-0 MAC) as it moved to 0-3 in the tournament after falling to Quinnipiac (3-3, 0-0 MAAC), 69-66.
It was a close game throughout as the Cardinals posted some of their best numbers on the season, recording a field goal percentage of 42 and matching their best at the free throw line with 73 percent.
While sophomore Oshlynn Brown achieved a season-high with 20 points, freshman Anna Clephane grabbed a career-high four rebounds to contribute to the team’s 29 and sophomore Maliah Howard-Bass posted her season-high in points with 12.
“This team has grown so much from that first game of the season to now,” head coach Brady Sallee said. “We used to be nervous and now we’re playing freely, our execution is improving. We’ve gotten better top-to-bottom, especially in these last three days.”
The Bobcats came out with two threes right away, while only shooting 20 percent behind the arc on the season. The Cardinals were able to tie the first quarter at 12 after a three from junior Jasmin Samz and a four-point play from senior Nakeya Penny, adding to the Cardinals’ 13-2 run. The quarter ended with a Cardinal lead 14-12 after two free throws from freshman Thelma Dis Agustsdottir.
Entering the second quarter, the Cardinals quickly pushed their lead to 20-12 after a three from Clephane and a jumper from Dis Agustsdottir. Junior Taylor Herd and senior Brittany Martin were the leading scorers for the Bobcats in the first half and kept them within four in the latter half of the second. Brown led the Cardinals with seven heading into halftime to tie the game, 31-31.
“Practice is one thing, but there’s no faking the real experience that they’re getting from these close-game situations,” Sallee said. “It’s helping our freshmen and the upperclassmen. We’re making the plays, some of them just happen to not go our way.”
The teams exchanged leads throughout the third quarter, senior forward Paula Strautmane posting four and Herd continuing to lead the Bobcats with 10. Brown continued to put up points for the Cardinals, tallying 14 by the end of the third. With a score of 52-52, the Cardinals posted 45 percent at the three, up from 23 percent on the season.
Ten seconds into the fourth, freshman Blake Smith scored her first points of the game on a layup to put the Cardinals up two. A 7-3 run pushed the Cardinal lead to six at 61-55, but foul trouble for Samz and three fouls in a minute from Penny saw the two key players benched. The Bobcats came back within two, then quickly tied the game at 66 with a minute left.
“It’s one thing to have knowledge, but to pair that with experience is even better,” Sallee said. “We’re getting that experience day-in and day-out, and when you play the schedule we’re playing, you don’t have to wonder how you’re going to perform against big teams because we’re already doing that.”
Fouls from the Cardinals put Herd at the line who drained three free throws to seal the win for the Bobcats. Herd led the team with 15 points along with Martin who posted 12. Herd also led the team in rebounds with seven.
Along with Brown’s 18 points that led the Cardinals, Howard-Bass and Samz posted double-digit points at 12 and 10.