Offensive woes, recurring issues continue for Ball State as it drops MAC opener against Eastern Michigan

<p>Ball State Cardinals junior forward Thelma Dis Agustsdottir drives to the basket in the first half of a home game against the Eastern Michigan Eagles Dec. 2, 2020, at John E. Worthen Arena. The Cardinals lost to the Eagles 77-58. <strong>Jacob Musselman, DN</strong></p>

Ball State Cardinals junior forward Thelma Dis Agustsdottir drives to the basket in the first half of a home game against the Eastern Michigan Eagles Dec. 2, 2020, at John E. Worthen Arena. The Cardinals lost to the Eagles 77-58. Jacob Musselman, DN

A tale of two halves was the story Wednesday night, where Ball State Women’s Basketball (0-3, 0-1 MAC) lost 77-58 against Mid-American Conference foe Eastern Michigan (2-1, 1-1 MAC). 

At halftime, the Eagles held a narrow 33-31 lead over the Cardinals. Ball State was in the midst of its best shooting night all season, connecting on four 3-pointers in the game’s first 10 minutes. The Cardinals’ defense was holding Eastern Michigan in check, limiting its paint touches and close looks at the rim. However, all seemed to change in the second half. 

Head coach Brady Sallee saw one specific aspect of the game flip in that time span: physicality. 

“[Eastern Michigan] just went and got second-chance opportunities from getting offensive rebounds,” Sallee said. “We got pretty undisciplined in the second half, when we faced some adversity.”

The Eagles scored 14 points off second-chance plays, while the Cardinals managed just one. They also outscored Ball State 42-18 in points in the paint. 

Junior forward Thelma Dis Agustsdottir continued her strong start to the season, scoring 14 points on 5-for-9 shooting, including 2-for-4 from the 3-point line. Junior guard Essence Booker finished with 12, and sophomore guard Syndey Freeman chipped in 11. Freeman returned to the lineup after missing Monday’s home opener vs. IUPUI with an ankle injury. 

Turnovers remain an issue for the Cardinals. Ball State has committed 20 or more turnovers in each of its first three games, including 21 on Wednesday. The Eagles capitalized on the Cardinals’ mistakes, outsourcing them 29 to 12 in the points off the turnover category. 

“As a team, you have to be tough enough to run offense and get the ball to where you want it to go,” Sallee said. “Pass, catch and get it to where you want it to go. Right now, when teams amp it up on us, we throw it to them.”

Eastern Michigan senior guard Areanna Combs led the Eagles on both ends of the floor, finishing with 26 points, 11 rebounds, six steals and five assists. 

Senior forward Oshlynn Brown missed her third straight game of the season. Brown, who led the Cardinals in scoring and rebounding last season, is dealing with a hand injury.

Ball State will try to learn from its mistakes in preparation for this Saturday, when the team travels to Bowling Green, Kentucky, to face Western Kentucky (0-1, 0-0 C-USA). Tipoff is 3 p.m. 

Contact Charleston Bowles with comments at clbowles@bsu.edu or on Twitter @cbowles01.



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