Four games in eight days can have its challenges, especially for a team in the depth of its conference schedule.
The Cardinals found themselves in that exact predicament this past week. Three Mid-American Conference games, all at Worthen Arena, had resulted in three straight losses.
However, on Saturday afternoon, the momentum swung. The Cardinals got back in the win column, as Ball State (10-8, 8-6 MAC) secured a 79-77 victory over Miami (Ohio) (2-17, 1-14 MAC).
After redshirt sophomore guard Anna Clephane drew a charge on a RedHawk player, the Cardinals had the ball with 12 seconds remaining and an opportunity to win the game.
With two seconds left on the clock, senior forward Oshlynn Brown drew a foul and stepped to the free-throw line with a chance to give the Cardinals their first lead since the eight-minute mark of the third quarter. As indicated by the final score, she knocked down both shots.
The Cardinals not only snapped out of their three-game losing streak with the win but also completed the season sweep of the RedHawks. Head coach Brady Sallee was proud of how his team fought through adversity and battled the past eight days in capturing the win.
“To be mentally tough enough to be down 10 or 11 [points],” head coach Brady Sallee said, “and fight and claw our way back into this one was a heck of a way to win.”
Brown scored 28 points and brought down 10 rebounds — both of which were team highs. With 992 career rebounds coming into the game, Brown now joins Emma Jones (1984-87) as the only Cardinal to achieve 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in her career. Brown will need 27 rebounds to pass the 1,028 mark set by Jones and become the Cardinals’ all-time leader.
Clephane continued her offensive momentum with 17 points in 37 minutes, marking her 11th consecutive game scoring double-figures. She had just 10 games in double-figures during her first two seasons with Ball State.
Sophomore guard Sydney Freeman also reached double-figures, scoring 15 points while also converting on 3 of 4 from the charity stripe.
Sallee said the RedHawks gave the Cardinals two hard-fought games, even if their record indicates otherwise. He credited his players for their efforts in both of them but primarily the latter.
“You got to give this to the players,” Sallee said. “I think this group knows what has to happen in order to win the way we did. “I don't know why [the RedHawks] are two and whatever. I don't know why they've had a bad season. Look at them, and I know when we play in this what we have to do, and we got two good wins against them this year.”
Sophomore guard Peyton Scott led the RedHawks, scoring 39 points in the losing effort. She shot 15 of 27 from the field, including a game high 5 of 9 from beyond the arc.
With a stretch against some of the MAC’s top teams on the horizon, Sallee said this win should help propel the team's confidence come those contests
“For them, it's big,” Sallee said. “Winning is good — you can't ever forget that part of it. I’m just really, really happy for these kids. They needed this one, we needed this one, and we got it.”
The Cardinals continue their road trip Feb. 17 against Buffalo (11-5, 8-3 MAC) in the first of back-to-back meetings between the two teams. Tipoff is 5 p.m.