4 takeaways from Ball State's regular-season sweep of Buffalo

<p>Sophomore forward Thelma Dis Agustsdottir runs towards the paint, Jan. 25, 2020, in John E. Worthen Arena. Dis Agustsdottir scored 19 points against the RedHawks. <strong>Jaden Whiteman, DN</strong></p>

Sophomore forward Thelma Dis Agustsdottir runs towards the paint, Jan. 25, 2020, in John E. Worthen Arena. Dis Agustsdottir scored 19 points against the RedHawks. Jaden Whiteman, DN

The defense has been the story for the Cardinals this season, and Saturday was no different. The second matchup against the Bulls proved to be quite similar to the first one. The defense was a great point of emphasis for Ball State, and it executed like it has all year to come out on top. Here are four takeaways from Ball State Women’s Basketball’s 69-58 defeat of Buffalo. 

Agustsdottir provided offensive consistency 

Finding a rhythm on offense has been difficult for the Cardinals at times this season. Against the Bulls, it was sophomore guard Thelma Dis Agustsdottir that provided a consistent threat on offense. En route to a career-high 26 points, Agustsdottir was a constant weapon for Ball State. 

After putting the cardinal and white on the board for the first time in the contest, that was only the beginning for her afternoon performance. She went on to only miss three shots from the field. Six of Agustsdottir’s 10 field-goal attempts were from beyond the 3-point arc, and she connected on all but one of them. 

Her efforts were also noted on the defensive side of the ball where she pulled down five offensive rebounds. Agustsdottir provided a consistent threat on the floor against Buffalo, and it was exactly what the Cardinals needed. 

Setting the pace

In games where Ball State has excelled this season, it has controlled the pace at which the game is played. The Cardinals did just that against the Bulls. After giving up 65 points to Buffalo last time out, the Cardinals knew they needed to be sharper defensively. 

Not only were they able to hold Buffalo to fewer than 60, but even when Ball State’s offense went silent in the third quarter for nearly five minutes, their defense held their own to keep the game under control. 

The Cardinals have had the ability to set the tone for the game early. Ball State is comfortable when it can slow the game down and run its set offense. Against Buffalo, it were able to move the ball on offense and find open looks. 

Freshman forward Anna Gamarra goes up to the basket, Jan. 25, 2020, in John E. Worthen Arena. Ball State beat Miami of Ohio 80-63. Jaden Whiteman, DN

Sharing the love

Sharing the ball is not anything new to Ball State. Head coach Brady Sallee has said several times it isn’t about who, it is about how. For the Cardinals, it doesn’t matter who is doing the scoring but rather how it is being done. Saturday, it was Agustsdottir that led the team in scoring, and next game it might be someone else, but that is a reason for the team's success up to this point. 

Ball State ended the day with 16 total assists. Freshman guard Sydney Freeman led the way with six of her own, but moving the ball and finding open looks is a big part of the Cardinals' offense. In a game where junior forward Oshlynn Brown only scored nine points, she contributed in different ways by racking up 11 rebounds and a pair of steals. 

The Cardinals didn’t see as much wide-spread scoring as they usually do, but many players contributed in unique ways. In a matchup where graduate student Jasmin Samz failed to find the bottom of the net, she was still able to contribute by leading the team in steals with three. 

Decisive defense 

The theme for Ball State this season has been defense. The conference leader in defense proved why it is at the top. After the first matchup with Buffalo, Sallee told the media in a post-game presser if they outrebounded Buffalo, they would win. They were able to outrebound the Bulls 42-40. They didn’t outrebound the Bulls Saturday, but they made up for it in different ways. 

The Cardinals were outrebounded 45-42, but the defensive difference came with them collecting 10 steals compared to the Bulls’ six. Ball State was also able to hold Buffalo’s leading scorer to just nine points. The Cardinals locked down freshman guard Dyashia Fair and held her way under her season average of 21.8 points per game. 

Saturday marked the 10th time this season the Cardinals have held their opponents to fewer than 60 points. Ball State is undefeated when it does that. The defense is something this team has taken personally this season, and each game, it wants to be the better team on defense. Against the Bulls, the defense was the deciding factor. 

Contact Grant Covey with comments at gacovey@bsu.edu or on Twitter @grant_covey


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