Coming into the contest, Ball State Women’s Basketball (11-5, 3-1 MAC) and Central Michigan (11-4, 4-0 MAC) were the only two remaining undefeated teams left in Mid-American Conference play, as it was a battle for the overall top spot in the conference.
The Chippewas put together a complete all-around effort in the second half, which led them to a dominating win over the Cardinals, 66-39. The lost snapped Ball State’s seven-game win streak, which was its longest streak since the 2017-18 season.
From the start, the matchup seemed to have the feeling of another close battle, as both teams were trading buckets, and the contest opened up tied at eight.
However, the Cardinals never saw a lead, and Central Michigan got off to an 8-0 run to build a small lead to end the first quarter, 16-10. Ball State made its runs but never completely closed the gap in the first half, as the Chippewas went into the halftime break with a 32-25 lead after a 5-0 run. From there on out, everything was downhill for the Cardinals.
Central Michigan started the third quarter with a 10-0 run that was then ended by graduate student guard Jasmin Samz's 3-pointer, but the Chippewas managed to outscore the Cardinals, 20-5, in the third frame, and they continued to win on each side of the ball and at one point led the game by 30 points.
“They were way better than us today. They whooped us in about every category,” head coach Brady Sallee said. “I got to have my group ready to play, and we weren’t today.”
Ball State struggled to find any rhythm on the offensive end in the second half, as it only made five of 25 attempts from the field. This marked the Cardinals' lowest total scoring output of the season. Central Michigan capitalized on the Cardinals' scoring pains and outscored them, 34 -14, in the second half.
Only one scorer for Ball State reached double figures, as junior forward Oshlynn Brown had 10 points. Freshman forward Annie Raunch was the second-leading scorer for the Cardinals with eight points.
Free throws were also a problem for the Cardinals, as the ball just seemed like it didn’t want to go in for them, shooting just 35.7 percent from the charity stripe.
Central Michigan had a balanced team attack, as its leading scorer on the season, junior guard Micaela Kelly, who averages 24.4 points per game, only had 11 in the contest. The Chippewas had three other scorers reach double digits in that column, as junior forward Kyra Bussell led the way with 15, freshman guard Molly Davis had 14 and junior guard Maddy Watters added 10.
“They were just better than us at every spot,” Sallee said.
Central Michigan has now won the last four matchups against Ball State, but the Cardinals will get a shot at revenge Feb. 29.
Ball State will get a chance to bounce back from the loss Saturday, as it finishes off a short road stretch, traveling to face Ohio.