Despite junior forward Oshlynn Brown’s 22 points and 14 rebounds, Ball State (4-4, 0-0 MAC) came up short in Saturday’s matchup with Western Kentucky (7-2, 0-0 C-USA).
Senior Dee Givens was the story of the day, setting a new individual opponent scoring record for Worthen Arena. Givens totaled 41 points on the day, shooting 14-for-28 from the field and 43 percent from behind the arc.
“We knew how good they were coming in,” head coach Brady Sallee. “I learned a lot about my team today and how good we are. For us, it probably came down to missed layups, missed free throws and going minus seven on the boards in the second half.”
Things started out in the Cardinals’ favor, as they held the lead throughout the majority of the contest. Sophomore forward Blake Smith guided the Cardinals through the first quarter, registering eight points off nine shots.
Brown and freshman guard Sydney Freeman were benched early in the second with two fouls each, while Givens posted 21 of the team’s 38 points after two quarters. Givens took 15 shots throughout the half, while nobody else on her team took more than six.
The Cardinals’ outside shots were failing to fall, but it was points in the paint that pushed them ahead. The Hilltoppers scored just 16 inside compared to the Cardinals’ 36 between Smith’s buckets from the block and layups from the likes of Brown, freshman guard Estel Puiggros and others.
“We knew if we could penetrate the frontline pressure, whether its passing or dribbling, we knew we would have some openings in there that could work,” Sallee said. “[Brown] is a big part of those points in the paint, and she came out in the second half with a ferocity that was fun to watch.”
After scoring just five in the first half, Brown came out in the third quarter with a chip on her shoulder, leading the Cardinals in scoring and rebounding to end the day.
“After having to sit out seven minutes in the first half, I knew what I had to do in the second,” Brown said. “I knew what this game was going to be, and I knew where I could get my easy points was in the paint.”
It was back-and-forth in the third quarter, with Givens pushing her team past the Cardinals at 53-51 for its first lead of the game since minute seven of the first quarter.
Graduate student guard Jasmin Samz hit the Cardinals’ second three of the game entering the fourth quarter to give them a one-point lead at 60-59. That was followed by another three from sophomore forward Thelma Dis Agustsdottir.
Things heated up entering the final minute of the contest when the Hilltoppers were up three, credit to Givens’ 35 points. It came down to the last 15 seconds, as Brown laid one over the rim to tie it, and the Hilltoppers failed to answer, sending the game into overtime.
The Hilltoppers hit 6-of-10 from the field in the extra five minutes, outscoring the Cardinals 16-11 and handing them the victory.
Despite the loss, 10 players on the Cardinal squad registered points with Samz’s 13 points following Brown’s lead. Smith and redshirt freshman guard Anna Clephane both posted double digits as well.
“We have a bunch of kids who can score,” Sallee said. “Whether it’s [Clephane] or [Annie Rauch], we have confidence in a lot of people. That balanced attack is something I’m proud of in this group because it’s hard to guard. The strength of our team is our balance.”