The Cardinals and the Redhawks battled all the way until the final buzzer sounded.
Ball State (7-5, 5-3 MAC) defeated Miami (Ohio) (1-13, 0-10 MAC) 85-82. The Cardinals led by as many as 18 points in the first quarter. Their lead quickly evaporated when Miami stepped up its offense and challenged the Cardinals defensively. That would continue the rest of the game.
“I don’t know that we’ll have a great taste in our mouth coming out of this one,” head coach Brady Sallee said. “The way we defend, we can’t do that and get away with it. Tonight, I feel like we got away with it. That has to be something we clean up a little bit.”
Sallee returned to the sidelines after missing Saturday’s win over Western Michigan with COVID-19.
Senior forward Oshlynn Brown had a career night, with a final line of 33 points and 15 rebounds. The performance was not only her sixth double-double of the season but also her most points scored in a Cardinal uniform. Her previous high was 29.
Sophomore guard Sydney Freeman hit the free-throw to put the Cardinals up three with nine seconds left, ultimately winning the game. She finished with 15 points but truly made her mark in the playmaking department. She totaled nine of the team’s 16 assists.
Junior forward Thelma Dis Agustsdottir and redshirt sophomore Anna Clephane rounded out the rest of the leading scorers. Dis Agustsdottir scored 16 points on 7-12 shooting, with three steals. With Essence Booker sidelined due to a knee injury, Clephane has stepped up and filled her starting spot. Clephane brought energy and intensity to both sides of the court.
Ball State outscored Miami by a 40-22 point margin. Sallee placed a heavy emphasis on getting into the interior and scoring inside. He credited the Cardinals' patience and willingness to allow plays to unfold.
“I thought we answered by throwing the ball inside and executing,” Sallee said. “You know, we were patient enough to move the ball sometimes three or four sides of the floor before we threw it inside.”
One facet of the game where the Cardinals struggled was free throws. As a team, they finished 24-for-45. Sallee said he hopes his players understand how different of a game it could have been if they converted at the charity stripe.
“If we make free throws, geez, we score in the hundreds,” Sallee said. “When you get to the free-throw line and work hard to get there, you have to make sure you make them. That is a big part of it.”
Sophomore guard Peyton Scott paced the Redhawks with 19 points. Scott was the only member of Miami to play all 40 minutes of game action.
The Cardinals will head back on the road this Saturday, Jan. 30, when they take on Western Michigan (2-9, 1-8 MAC). Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m.