Ball State wasted no time getting the ball rolling, opening the game with back-to-back 3-pointers and sparking an all-around offensive show.
A 26-point first quarter gave the Cardinals (1-1, 0-0 MAC) a comfortable lead, and they kept their foot on the gas, cruising past Purdue Fort Wayne (2-1, 0-0 Summit) for their first win of the season, 83-52.
“It’s always nice to make some shots right out of the gate, and I think it settled us down a little bit,” head coach Brady Sallee said. “We knocked down a lot of threes tonight and got the ball to the paint, and that’s a really good equation for a big night offensively.”
The Cardinals were on the money offensively, shooting 56.3 percent from the field in the first half and 46.2 percent from the 3-point line, which helped them propel to a 45-27 lead into the break.
Ball State picked up right where it left off in the second half, and the intensity was similar. The Cardinals continued to build onto their lead, as the Mastodons were never able to get things going.
The Cardinals finished the game shooting at a 50.8 percent clip from the field and 40 percent from behind the arc while knocking down 10 threes. Sallee said the key to their success was ball movement, as they dished out 22 total assists.
“We talked about, if we weren’t patient and [weren’t] willing to make the extra pass, they were going to force us into a shot they wanted us to take,” Salle said. “I thought we did a really good job of being stingy with our looks and really moving the ball until we got the one we wanted.”
It was a collective effort, as 13 players saw the court, and 11 contributed to the scoring column. The Cardinals’ bench accounted for 41 points, showing the team’s depth. Sophomore guard Anna Clephane led the charge off the bench with a team-high 16 points. Sophomore forward Blake Smith, freshman guard Estel Puiggros and graduate student guard Jasmin Samz each recorded 10 points.
“On any given night, we probably have about 10 of them that can go for 20, so that takes a team-first mentality to kind of sacrifice what may be good for you for the betterment of the team,” Salle said. “That’s the way we played tonight — very unselfish.”
Ball State was also active on defense, pressuring from the half-court line, which led to it being able to speed up Purdue Fort Wayne’s offense to make it uncomfortable and turn the ball over at a high rate. The Cardinals took advantage of the mistakes and scored 18 points off of the Mastodons’ 22 turnovers.
“We were talking about the effort on the defensive end all week, and I thought we came out as the aggressor and played with a lot of effort,” Sallee said. “Not always perfect on the defensive end. We have a lot of things to get better at, but the effort was there.”
The Cardinals’ effort also showed in the rebounding battle, as they dominated the glass, grabbing 43 to Mastodons’ 26. Junior forward Oshlynn Brown and senior guard Arbrie Benson each collected seven. Smith claimed five, and three other Cardinals snatched four.
“We played really hard when that ball came off the rim,” Sallee said. “You can’t play fast unless you rebound the ball, and our kids bought into it across the board and rebounded very well.”
Ball State will finish up its three-game road trip against Cincinnati Saturday at 2 p.m.