After a 10-day break, Ball State was back in action Wednesday as they tipped-off their play in the Lobo Invitational in New Mexico.
The Cardinals’ return to the hardwood wasn’t an ideal start but a collective team effort from Ball State Women's Basketball (5-4, 0-0 MAC) erased an 18-point deficit as they knocked off Loyola Marymount (3-8, 0-0 WCC), 77-72, in its first contest against the Lions in program history.
“That’s a great win with the way that happened, to show the fight that we had,” head coach Brady Sallee said. “I’m really proud of this team and its games like that, that you learn a lot about yourself in.”
The first half wasn’t the Cardinals’ best performance as they struggled to get a rhythm going early. It took about five minutes for Ball State to cash in on their first field goal of the game. The Cardinals were able to pick it up to end the quarter as freshman forward Annie Raunch recorded five of her career-high 11 points in the first frame alone but their run didn’t carry over to the second quarter.
Loyola Marymount was able to take advantage and the way that they distributed the ball equally around lead to them finding success offensively as they outscored the Cardinals 26-13 in the second. After a 10-0 run, the Lions held a 42-24 lead at the break. Loyola Marymount had nine players on the scoreboard at the end of the second quarter.
However, the deficit didn’t discourage the Cardinals and they came out of halftime playing with a different kind of energy. Ball State opened the third quarter with a 15-2 run that started with freshman guard Syndey Freeman’s back-to-back buckets, which cut the Loyola Marymount lead to just 44-39.
The Cardinals continued to force the Lions into committing mistakes and it helped them close the gap to just four points heading into the final frame as they outscored them, 26-12.
In the fourth quarter, the Cardinals put it all together and their late surge gave them their first lead of the contest with just 4:11 remaining. Ball State never looked back and controlled the game from there on out as they put up 27 points as a team in the fourth alone.
“We knew that we could do it and we had a lot of players step up after not playing really well in the first half and they put it behind them,” Sallee said.
It was another solid group effort on the offensive end for the Cardinals. Junior forward Oshlynn Brown lead the charge with 17 points and 10 rebounds making it her fifth double-double of the season. Four other Cardinals found themselves hitting the double-digit scoring mark including Raunch, graduate student guard Jasmin Samz had 13, Freeman with 12, and redshirt freshman Anna Clephane put up 10.
Loyola Marymount’s lack of being able to control the ball was their downfall as they finished with 24 turnovers. Credit to Ball State’s defensive effort which came up with 17 total steals in the game.
The Cardinals will turn around quick as they will play their second game of the invitational Thursday against Providence at 6:30 p.m.