As the old saying goes, “All good things must come to an end.”
That quote resonated with Ball State (9-6, 7-4 MAC) Saturday night, as the team ended its five-game win streak and fell 89-84 in overtime to Akron (5-10, 2-10 MAC). However, head coach Brady Sallee wants his players to hold themselves accountable and not let their first loss since Jan. 9 keep them up.
“We were on a heck of a run,” Sallee said. “We won five straight, won some close games, [but] today, that close game didn't go our way. We're not going to pout about it, whine about it — we're going to own it and start getting ready for Northern [Illinois] almost immediately.”
Senior forward Oshlynn Brown continued her average of double-doubles with 29 points and 19 rebounds, shooting 11-for-19 from the free-throw line. While she played all four quarters, Brown was forced to exit in overtime after receiving her fifth foul.
Sophomore guard Sydney Freeman scored 17 points, while also contributing seven assists, six rebounds and four steals. Redshirt sophomore guard Anna Clephane rounded out the double-digit scoring with 12 points in 27 minutes. She shot a perfect 8-for-8 from the charity stripe.
The story of the game took place on the defensive end. Akron scored 89 points — its highest total of the season in conference play. Sallee believes the Cardinals’ lack of defensive execution contributed to their loss.
“Our inability to do what we were supposed to do, when we were supposed to do it and how we were supposed to do it, defensively, is why we got beat,” Sallee said. “It was just a really disjointed defensive effort, clearly.”
Zips’ senior forward Jordyn Dawson led Akron offensively with 34 points. She also tallied seven assists, six rebounds and four steals. Dawson made her mark at the free-throw line, converting on 11-for-11 from the charity stripe. Sallee believes Dawson’s confidence grew over the game as she started to see more and more shots go in.
Akron was averaging 34.2 rebounds per game coming into the game and had a -11 margin against opponents. The Zips finished with 45 rebounds, which was good for dead even with the Cardinals. Sallee said the Zips’ energy picked up as time progressed and realized they could win.
“Akron played harder than we did,” Sallee said. “As soon as they felt like they had a chance — you know they've lost so many games — as soon as they felt they had a chance, they got more energized.”
Ball State returns to action Monday, Feb. 8, at home against Northern Illinois (9-6, 7-3 MAC). This game was originally scheduled for Jan. 20 but was postponed due to COVID-19 issues. Tipoff is 2 p.m.
“We don't have any time to salt,” Sallee said. “We better turn around and answer the bell, have the right taste in our mouth and be ready for an even better NIU team than what we played today.”