Ball State Women’s Basketball (8-4, 0-0 MAC) made its return to Worthen Arena Monday after not having a contest on its home floor for 23 days. The Cardinals showed signs of rust after the holiday break but turned their play around in the second half and came away with a convincing 84-49 victory against Urbana (7-6, 3-3 AMC).

The game seemed to have the potential to be back-and-forth battle between the two teams in the first 20 minutes. Urbana showed its ability to score at will, as its 3-point shooting gave it an advantage over Ball State in the first half, making 6-of-11 from deep. The Cardinals struggled from behind the arc, only making 2-of-8. 

“I thought we were a little bit too cool for school there in the first half,” Ball State head coach Brady Sallee said. 

The Blue Knights received efficient scoring from forward Tyra James, who put up 14 of her 23 total points in the first half to lead her team to a 34-32 advantage at halftime. 

“Give Urbana credit. They isolated us with James, and we had to make some adjustments and she’s a whale of a player,” Sallee said. “We kind of slept walked throughout that first half, and it bit us.”

However, Ball State came out of the break and caught fire instantly, as it put up buckets rapidly and caused havoc for Urbana’s offense. 

The Cardinals put up a game-high 28 points in the third quarter and followed with 24 points in the fourth. They did it with efficiency, making 57.1 percent of their shots in the final two frames. Their three ball also started to fall, which helped Ball State snatch the lead away from Urbana, and they ran with it as they continued to extend the gap. 

The Cardinals’ defense also took its play to the next level, as it put together an all-around performance to make things hard for the Blue Knights. Urbana wasn’t able to get decent outside looks, as the defenders closed out on the attempts, forcing them into difficult looks at the hoop. In the final two quarters, the Blue Knights only made 18.7 percent of their shots from the field. 

The Blue Knights didn’t find a way to counter the Cardinals attack, and they only scored 15 points in the second half. Coming into the game, Urbana averaged 78.3 points per contest. 

“We gave more than one effort … in the second half. When they drove it, we helped, and we recovered on the pass outs and we were there on the catch and challenged shots,” Sallee said. 

Ball State forced Urbana to make mistakes, as the pressure put on the ball handlers was too much for the Blue Knights to control. Their slip ups were costly, as the Cardinals cashed in on 21 buckets off of turnovers. 

Ball State received double-digit scoring outings from four different players, as sophomore forward Thelma Dis Agustsdottir led the way with 21 points, making five 3-pointers. Graduate student guard Jasmin Samz and junior forward Oshlynn Brown both had 13 each, and freshman forward Annie Rauch had a career-high 12. 

The Cardinals had 11 of their 12 players that played Monday get on the scoreboard.

Ball State will begin conference play Saturday, looking to extend its four-game winning streak against Kent State at 1:00 p.m. in Muncie. 

Contact Daric Clemens with comments at diclemens@bsu.edu or on Twitter @DaricClemens