Toughness has been a statement the Cardinals have based their season on. They stayed true to that and continued to show fight in their contest against the Bulls Wednesday.
Ball State Women’s Basketball (12-6, 4-2 MAC) found itself down in the game, but its effort never faded, as the team pushed on and beat Buffalo (12-5, 3-3 MAC), 69-65.
“It’s kind of been our story all year … We have found ourselves in these situations,” head coach Brady Sallee said. “That’s what happens when I get in the way, but when I step out of the way, they just start playing and make me look good.”
Another slow start for the Cardinals found the team down in a hole early, being down as much as 14 points. However, with energy on both sides of the ball, Ball State dug out of the dirt and completed a comeback.
Ball State started to come alive toward the back end of the second quarter, as it went on a 15-5 run to end the half, only down 32-29.
The momentum carried over into the second half, as junior forward Oshlynn Brown took over in the third quarter, and she could not be denied. Brown put up 14 points in the quarter alone, as she made 6-of-9 attempts in the quarter.
She was able to show a new part of her skillset, extending her range and knocking down three mid-range jump shots. She also took a step back on one, making her first 3-point shot of the season.
“I felt like the way that the defense was playing me was kind of disrespectful, like I can’t shoot, so when I saw that, I felt like I should take advantage. I worked on it all summer,” Brown said. “I didn’t even think about it [on my first 3-point basket]. I just did it.”
Although it was Brown’s first made 3-pointer, Sallee said he wasn’t surprised by the result.
“Nobody is going to believe this, but when she shot it and made it, I had like a proud dad moment because I see her do it every day,” Sallee said. “We trust her, and I think that’s the story of this group is that they all trust each other.”
Brown finished the contest leading all scorers with 24 points, but she wasn’t only active in the scoring column. She was all over the court, coming up with effort plays and dominating on the glass with 11 rebounds.
“In the second half, I started to realize what they were doing, and how they were playing defense and how they were playing our shooters, and I knew that’s when I had to step in,” Brown said. “Being able to play defense, talk to each other and all of that, I just felt like that’s what a leader is being able to step up for the team.”
Ball State was able to get production offensively as a collective group. Freshman guard Sydney Freeman scored 15 points, freshman forward Annie Rauch and sophomore forward Thelma Dis Agustsdottir both recorded 13.
The Cardinals' defense is what changed the direction of the game. At the beginning of the contest, the Bulls were finding open shooters and taking advantage, which gave them the early lead.
However, Ball State was able to apply continuous pressure on the Buffalo offense, and the Bulls seemed uncomfortable at times, which led to 18 team turnovers in the game.
“The first quarter, we were a little bit soft in our plan, but once we got motivated after a couple timeouts, we started to defend,” Sallee said. “We have been able to defend at this level all year, so we have a lot of faith on what we are doing defensively, and we can shut teams down.”
The Cardinals will defend their home floor again Saturday as they take on Miami (Ohio).