Ball State falls in final seconds against Eastern Michigan

<p>Freshman guard Sydney Freeman drives to the basket, Jan. 25, 2020, in John E. Worthen Arena. Freeman had 11 points against the RedHawks. <strong>Jacob Musselman, DN</strong></p>

Freshman guard Sydney Freeman drives to the basket, Jan. 25, 2020, in John E. Worthen Arena. Freeman had 11 points against the RedHawks. Jacob Musselman, DN

In a back-and-forth contest that went all the way down to the final possessions, turnovers stalled Ball State Women’s Basketball’s (18-8, 10-4 MAC) chances, as it fell to Eastern Michigan (13-12, 7-6 MAC) 61-58.

In the first quarter, both teams were displaying stout defense, as they were disrupting each other’s offensive flow. 

Things started to trend upward for Ball State at the start of the second quarter, as it went on an 8-0 run to grab an 18-9 lead, but Eastern Michigan responded with a 11-2 run, in which it took its first lead of the contest before the end of the frame. 

Sophomore forward Thelma Dis Agustsdottir buried a 3-point shot before the buzzer sounded to tie the ball game heading into halftime 29-29. 

Eastern Michigan started to get things going coming out of the break, as it took control of the lead in the third frame. 

The Eagles shot just 21.4 percent in the first quarter but they shook off the poor shooting and picked it up in the second and third quarters, shooting 45 percent, which helped them hold a lead heading in to the fourth. 

There was a bright spot in the Cardinals’ struggles in the third quarter, as junior forward Oshlynn Brown put in a layup, which put her over the 1,000-point mark of her career with Ball State.

Ball State and Eastern Michigan continued to battle it out in the final quarter. With 5:35 left, the Cardinals took the lead back after a clutch 3-point shot by graduate student guard Jasmin Samz to make it 53-52. 

Throughout the final minutes, each team continued to trade punches, and neither could hold a comfortable lead. There were 11 total lead changes in the contest. 

The Eagles held a four-point advantage with less than two minutes to play, but freshman guard Sydney Freeman cashed in a deep ball to cut the deficit to just one point with 1:35 left.

Ball State had a chance to take the lead with 11 seconds left, as it trailed 59-58, but a turnover gave Eastern Michigan the ball back, and Ball State was forced to foul. The Eagles made both free throws to extend their lead to 61-58. 

The Cardinals had a chance at redemption to try and tie the game, but another turnover cost them the possession, and the Eagles were able to dribble out the clock. 

“We were trying to flare Thelma out to get open, and they made a good read,” head coach Brady Sallee said.

At the end of things, Eastern Michigan was able to lean on its collective team scoring performance and tight defense to walk away with the win. 

“They make it tough on you to score, and I thought that they probably bettered us in the toughness category a little bit, and we knew we had to do that to win,” Sallee said. “We were one possession away from doing it but just not enough today.” 

Scoring didn’t come easy for Ball State, but Freeman did have a team-high 14 points, and Brown recorded her 12th double-double of the season with 11 points and 12 rebounds.

As a team, the Cardinals shot just 33.9 percent from the field and 27.3 percent from 3-point range and could never get a good offensive rhythm going throughout the contest. The Eagles’ defense succeeded in limiting the open looks Ball State got. 

Ball State will look to get back in the win column Wednesday against Toledo. 

Contact Daric Clemens with comments at diclemens@bsu.edu or on Twitter @DaricClemens

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