Home-court advantage is real in regards to Ball State Women’s Basketball. The Cardinals’ play has been consistently better when they have laced them up in Worthen Arena, and that continued against Western Michigan Saturday.
“I think that it’s important that when people make the effort to come out and support us, we give them what they got today,” head coach Brady Sallee said.
The Cardinals defended their home floor against the Broncos, coming out with the 68-65 victory, which keeps Ball State unbeaten at Worthen Arena in Mid-American Conference play. The Cardinals’ record is now 5-0 at home.
“We enjoy thoroughly that the fans are there and they come to support us because not everyone in the women’s [basketball] community gets the crowd that we get,” graduate student guard Jasmin Samz said. “We want to win every game that we can so more and more people think, ‘Look, the women’s team is winning,’ and we are inspiring people, and we want them to always come back. So, we know if we put a good product out, they’ll come back and tell their friends about it.”
The Cardinals continued to live by their team play of effort and toughness, and it was on display against the Broncos, as the entire unit made major contributions, which led to them coming out on top.
“I genuinely like this team,” Sallee said. “This group is a high-character, hardworking and selfless group, and it’s just good.”
It was a tight-knit contest to start, as both teams were fighting to get some ground on a lead, but it wasn’t happening in the first half.
However, Ball State did find some momentum in the closing minutes of the second quarter, as it ended the frame with a 7-0 run, which included freshman guard Estel Puiggros’ half-court shot at the buzzer.
Samz’s play in the first half was big for the Cardinals. She found herself on fire on the offensive end, dropping 16 of her total 19 points in the half alone.
“It was really just execution. The team was setting good screens … and I was just taking advantage of them trying to go over some ball screens, and a couple times that they went under it, I shot it, and it just happened to fall in,” Samz said. “The team trusts me to get to the rim and be able to make those shots.”
The Cardinals’ momentum carried over from the second quarter into the third, as they started to build a solid lead. After back-to-back 3-point shots by sophomore forward Thelma Dis Agustsdottir, the Cardinals took their biggest lead of the contest, going up 54-41.
Western Michigan never went away, and it continued to fight until the final horn. In the fourth quarter, the Broncos went on a 10-2 run, which cut their deficit to just two points with 3:46 left.
“I thought all eight of them were great for Western Michigan … Sometimes you just can’t control some of those things, but you can control you,” Sallee said. “I like the shots we were getting [at the end] … I can’t tell them to trust each other and then yell at them and dictate every dribble. I just trust them.”
Ball State’s confidence on the offensive end continued to show, and another 3-point shot from Puiggros fell with 1:13 remaining in the contest to push the Cardinals’ lead back up to 66-61, and it was smooth sailing from there.
“Every day, we are getting a better understanding of how to attack what teams are doing,” Sallee said. “We have a lot of people that can score it … It has been anybody and everybody all year long, and when you mix it together and these guys are willing to play unselfishly, that makes us pretty efficient.”
The Cardinals finished the matchup shooting 42.9 percent from the field and 47.4 percent from behind the arc.
Ball State will get a brief break in between games, as it won’t be back in action until Feb. 8 against Akron.