4 takeaways from Ball State Women’s basketball’s first MAC loss

<p>Women's Basketball head coach Brady Sallee yells at a referee after a foul on Ball State Jan. 11, 2020, at John E. Worthen Arena. Sallee is in his eighth season at Ball State. <strong>Jacob Musselman, DN</strong></p>

Women's Basketball head coach Brady Sallee yells at a referee after a foul on Ball State Jan. 11, 2020, at John E. Worthen Arena. Sallee is in his eighth season at Ball State. Jacob Musselman, DN

In a game where the Cardinals were outscored, 34-14, in the second half, offense wasn’t the only thing Ball State had a hard time finding. From committing three turnovers before their first point to only making 5-of-12 attempts from the free-throw line, the Cardinals were not able to keep up with the Chippewas. Here are four takeaways from Ball State’s 66-39 defeat at Central Michigan. 

Defensive woes 

Coming into the game against the Chippewas, the Cardinals ranked first in the Mid-American conference in scoring defense. Only giving up 62.1 points per contest, Ball State has kept its opponents’ offense in check. Wednesday’s matchup saw Central Michigan shoot 38 percent from the field, 3 percent higher than the Cardinals’ average of 35.1 percent from the field on defense. 

The Cardinals also allowed the Chippewas to knock down 12 3-pointers. Central Michigan proved why it is the second-best 3-point shooting team in the conference. Ball State has given up an average of six made threes per game up to this point. The cardinal and white was also outrebounded, 40-32, on the night and allowed six second-chance points. 

Second-half struggles 

Trailing at halftime was nothing new to Ball State in its seven-game win streak, but it was unable to capitalize in the second half of play Wednesday. Going just 5-for-25 in the second half was a big factor as to why the Cardinals were unable to overcome a seven-point deficit at halftime. Ball State is usually a team that can rely on its 3-point shooting ability, but it shot just 2-of-13 from deep against the Chippewas. 

Ball State only racked up six assists on the night, and finding the open look was difficult for the Cardinals. Coming into Mt. Pleasant, Ball State had four players averaging in double figures. Against Central, it had just one in double digits. Junior forward Oshlynn Brown led the way with 10 points, but the Cardinals’ struggled to find an offensive rhythm to get everyone involved. Graduate student guard Jasmin Samz only recorded three points on the night, her second-lowest scoring output of the season.

Junior Forward, Oshlynn Brown(32) , fades away on a two point attempt against Butler on Nov. 23, 2019 at John E. Worthen Arena. Brown finished the game with 10 points in a 74-70 win. Omari Smith, DN

Turnover troubles 

Ball State started the game committing three turnovers before Brown was able to connect for the team’s first field goal of the night. Both teams turned the ball over numerous times, but it was Central Michigan that was able to turn 16 Ball State turnovers into 16 points. On the other side, the Cardinals only had eight points off of 15 turnovers. 

Turning the ball over was a big struggle in the first half for the cardinal and white. Committing 10 total turnovers, the Cardinals were unable to handle the ball on offense. From errant passes to tight defense from Central, these turnovers proved key in a 3:46 scoring drought to end the first half. 

Low offensive output 

In their second conference road tilt, the Cardinals found themselves held to fewer than 40 points and their lowest-scoring game of the season. Ball State has excelled this season in low-scoring, down-to-the-wire games, but it was the Chippewas that found offense, and the Cardinals could not keep up. Ball State was outscored, 34-14, in the second half, which led to its first conference loss of the season. 

Up until this point in the season, the Cardinals’ lowest-scoring output was 48 in their season opener at IUPUI. Tonight saw their lowest-scoring loss since posting 38 points in the 2018-19 season opener at Purdue. Freshman guard Sydney Freeman tied for her second-lowest scoring output of the season. Going 2-for-6 from the field, Freeman was unable to connect on her attempts, four of which came from 3-point range. Sophomore forward Thelma Dis Agustsdottir’s four points and 33 percent shooting was also a limiting factor for Ball State. 

Contact Grant Covey with comments at gacovey@bsu.edu or on Twitter @grant_covey.

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