Close margins of victory have been the theme for Ball State Women’s Basketball this season. On Saturday it saw yet another game decided by 10 points or fewer. This time, it was Eastern Michigan that was able to take the slight edge over the Cardinals 61-58. Here are four takeaways from the Cardinals’ first loss in February.
Just 29 seconds into the third quarter, junior forward Oshlynn Brown became the 28th player for Ball State Women’s Basketball to eclipse 1,000 points in her career. It was Brown’s sixth point of the afternoon, and it gave the Cardinals a 31-29 advantage.
Before Brown, the most-recent player to reach 1,000 career points was Moriah Monaco, who graduated in 2018. She finished her four-year career with 1,606 points. For Brown, she now starts her climb to the top of the all-time scoring list. Nathalie Fontaine is at the top of the career scoring list with 2,166 points. Brown has five more remaining games this year and then her senior campaign coming up in the 2020-2021 season.
Brown is the seventh player to reach 1,000 in head coach Brady Sallee’s reign at Ball State. The next-closest player for the Cardinals is graduate student guard Jasmin Samz. Samz now needs 17 points to reach 1,000 points in her career, and she needs 25 points to reach that mark as a Ball State player.
At halftime, the Cardinals had only committed three turnovers, and it had appeared they were going to achieve a season low in the turnover category. The second half proved the opposite. Ball State went on to commit 10 second-half turnovers, and two of them cost them the game in the final seconds.
The Cardinals were down one point after their defense forced a shot clock violation with 11 seconds to play. Out of the timeout, Samz attempted to throw into Brown, but it was intercepted by Corrine Caldwell of Eastern Michigan. The Eagles went on to make both free throws to gain a three-point lead.
Then, with about six seconds left, a similar situation happened for Ball State, turning the ball over again. Sallee has said his team likes to keep the turnovers to fewer than 17 per game. They did that Saturday, but the two turnovers with less than 10 seconds to play served costly, and Eastern was able to end the Cardinals’ five-game win streak.
Freeman’s recent fire
She’s been in the starting lineup all season long, but scoring has not been the main focus for freshman guard Sydney Freeman. Over the past three games, however, Freeman has been able to propel herself into double-digit scoring.
On Saturday, Freeman led the team with 14 points as well as field-goal efficiency, going 5-for-9 from the field. The second matchup with Eastern had similarities of the first time around — a low-scoring game from start to finish with the defense highlighting each side of the court.
Freeman was the bright spot on an offense Ball State needed to stay in the game. She also dumped in three assists to lead the team in that department as well. Freeman was complemented by Brown, who had 11 points, as the only two scorers in double figures for the Cardinals.
As close as they could be
In the first game against Eastern Michigan, the numbers between the two teams in the final box score were nearly identical, and Saturday was no different. The Eagles made 21 field goals, and the Cardinals were successful on 20 shots. The rebounding column is an area where Ball State looks after every game. Saturday, it won that battle with a 43-42 advantage.
Ball State has been known for its close games this season. In those games, both teams have matched up similarly. Saturday, it was Eastern that was able to find a slight edge in the offensive rebounding category. The Eagles pulled down three more offensive boards than the Cardinals. A total of 13 offensive rebounds allowed the Eagles to score 13 second-chance points on the afternoon.
Both teams shot 33.9 percent from the field, but it was 20 points in the paint for Eastern compared to Ball State’s 18. The margin between the two teams was ever-so-slight and it was the Eagles who were able to find a couple areas to be better at, and it was ultimately the difference.