Coming off of a 79-77 victory over Miami (Ohio) Saturday, the Cardinals returned to the court Wednesday night and concluded their two-game road trip. In the first of a home-and-home series between the two teams, senior forward Oshlynn Brown recorded her second straight double-double — 15 points and 13 rebounds — propelling the Cardinals past the Bulls.
Here are three takeaways from the win.
Brown leads by example:
Brown led the Cardinals in three statistical categories Wednesday night against Buffalo — points (15), rebounds (13) and blocks (one). However, it wasn’t just her performance that got Ball State the win.
Ball State’s bench put up 42 points, outscoring Buffalo’s bench by 18 points. Junior forward Blake Smith contributed off the bench in dominant fashion, recording a career-high 14 points. Sophomore guard Sydney Freeman was also a key distributor of the ball. She had 12 points, a game-high five assists and knocked down two clutch 3-pointers near the end.
Slowing down the Bulls:
On defense the Cardinals held Buffalo to 11.5 percent from the 3-point line and 29 percent from the field overall. Buffalo is averaging 31 percent from the 3-point line throughout the season and ranked top five in the Mid-American Conference, but Ball State’s zone defense against Buffalo Wednesday night was a key factor to stymying the Bulls’ high-volume offense they can produce on a nightly basis.
The Cardinals forced the Bulls’ hand by making them drive to the rim and take 51 shots in the paint, while scoring 40 of their 63 points also in the paint. Ball State forced Buffalo to play its style of basketball all night with quick transitions on the fast break and high team chemistry on the offensive side.
The Cardinals’ distribution of the ball was at a season high Wednesday night. The team dished out 20 assists and shot close to a season-high 51 percent from the field.
Ball State had another all-around performance — something it has been doing all season long. Ball movement has been a key factor to this team, as it had four players in double-digit scoring Wednesday night. Furthermore, the game was the 10th this season four or more Cardinals have scored in the double-digit range.
Ball State will look to build on its efforts when the team returns to Muncie Saturday, Feb. 20, and go for the season sweep of Buffalo. Tipoff is 1 p.m.