Coming off two consecutive losses for the first time this season, Buffalo (17-7, 9-4 MAC) was not taking this game with Ball State (7-18, 2-11 MAC) lightly. The Bulls came out with the losses to Bowling Green and Central Michigan on their minds, and they took it to the Cardinals (7-18, 2-11 MAC), 97-58.

“I give all the credit in the world to [Buffalo head coach Felicia Leggette-Jack] and her team,” Ball State head coach Brady Sallee said. “They had a sense of urgency and frustration from those last two losses, and they took it to us.”

Despite having every active player on the roster with points and winning the offensive rebounding game, the Cardinals couldn’t seem to stop the Bulls’ key players when they were hot. Ending the game with 12 scorers, three in double figures, points were not hard to come by for the Bulls.

While Cierra Dillard and Summer Hemphill have been standouts for the Bulls, it was Theresa Onwuka who got off to a hot start. Onwuka had 10 of the team’s 28 points at the end of the first quarter where the Bulls also managed to avoid turnovers entirely compared to the Cardinals’ six.

A key point for the Cardinals in the first half was their ability to keep Dillard under control, holding her to only six points in the first 20 minutes of the game. 

“Our focus on Dillard was pretty good, but we lost some other ones,” Sallee said. “They’re a good team, and they’re more than just Dillard. That’s always the hard part in coming up with the game plan — deciding how much to focus on her and let the others get loose.”

The story of the night was the Buffalo’s shooting percentage. The Bulls shot 69 percent from the field and 55 percent from three, and the Cardinals struggled to keep up with those numbers. While the Cardinals remained close in rebounds and had more second-chance points, they could not seem to stop the Bulls’ offense.

It didn’t stop in the second half as the Bulls came back out and scored five points in the first minute of the half. By the end of the third, the Cardinals still did not have a single player with double-digit points. On the contrary, the Bulls saw Hemphill with 20, Onwuka with 14 and Dillard with 12. They also had six other players contributing to their total of 71 heading into the fourth quarter. 

Sophomore forward Oshlynn Brown inched her way into double digits late in the fourth and ended the night with 10. With Dillard’s strong second-half performance, finishing with 20 points, and Hemphill’s 24, the Cardinals were unable to keep up.

“These kids need a win,” Sallee said. “But it doesn’t come without the fight. They’re going to keep working.”

Contact Gabi Glass with any comments at grglass@bsu.edu or on Twitter @gabiglassbsu.