Ball State Women’s Basketball (7-4, 0-0 MAC) will return to Muncie on a hot streak after finishing with a 3-0 record in the Lobo Invitational following their convincing win over New Mexico (9-6, 0-2 Mountain West) Friday, 70-57.
“It’s not about me or anything else it’s about those 14 kids that we got and man did they grow up this week, unbelievable,” head coach Brady Sallee said. “We played three really good teams with different strategies and different game plans and we stepped up to the plate.”
Throughout the first two games in the Invitational, the Cardinals found themselves with double-digit deficits and had to fight back to win those contests. On Friday, they made sure not to follow the two-game trend as Lobos held a 4-0 lead after the tip-off but the Cardinals went on a 10-0 run and never trailed again.
“We played our tails off,” Sallee said. “Two very good teams but our kids were better tonight.”
Ball State's defensive pressure throughout the contest made it hard for New Mexico to make shots consistently which helped the Cardinals build on their lead in the game. In the first quarter, both teams couldn’t really get a solid groove offensively. Ball State shot 27.3 percent from the field while New Mexico only made 20 percent of their shots.
“We did a whale of a job against a really good offensive team to hold them to just 57 is unheard of,” Sallee said.
However, the second quarter treated the Cardinals better as they picked up their shooting making 43 percent of their attempts, which propelled them to a 35-24 lead heading into the halftime break.
Ball State’s offense got rolling in the third quarter scoring 23 points in the frame knocking down 3-of-4 3-pointers and that’s when they began to build a controlling lead over New Mexico heading into the fourth with an 18-point lead.
The Cardinals’ defense was able to hold Lobos to five or fewer made field goals in each quarter throughout the game as they made only 19 of their 76 attempts. Ball State also dominated on the glass which didn’t allow New Mexico to get many second chances at a bucket in a possession. The Cardinals outrebounded Lobos 57 to 42 and sophomore forward Blake Smith led the charge for Ball State snatching a game-high 12.
“Before the game, we talked about Ball State toughness and defined what it meant and our kids played with it for 40 minutes and that’s special,” Sallee said.
The Cardinals’ offense wasn’t completely efficient in the contest as they only shot 37.9 percent from the field and committed 20 turnovers but they had major contributions on the scoreboard and the team was able to make plays when it mattered most.
Senior guard Arbrie Benson's performance notched her career-high as a Cardinal making 3-of-3 from behind the arc ending the game with 10 points. Sophomore forward Thelma Dis Agugstdottir lead Ball State with 16 points, which is now her season-high. Graduate student guard Jasmin Samz made her mark across the stat sheet scoring 11, dishing out four assists and grabbing six rebounds.
Ball State will be back in action after the holidays as they look to extend their three-game win streak against Urbana at Worthen Arena Dec. 30 at 7:00 p.m.