After 50 minutes of action, the final buzzer sounded. In a back-and-forth matchup, the Cardinals failed to do quite enough to capture the win.
Ball State (13-10, 11-8 MAC) fell 87-81 to Central Michigan (14-8, 11-7 MAC) on Wednesday evening.
Although the ball did not bounce their way at the final buzzer, head coach Brady Sallee was proud of his team's effort. In a game where his players played upwards of 49 minutes, Sallee thought their perseverance sent a message of what kind of team they are.
“Plays were made the whole game, back and forth,” Sallee said. “But I liked the fight in the dog today. We've been shooting 45 to 50 percent every single night, we shoot 34 percent (tonight), and we still have chances to win, and it goes to double overtime. I think that says a lot about this team and what we're capable of doing. Even on a night where we turned it over and didn't shoot well, it took double overtime to beat us and some breaks going their way to beat us. You know, heck to a college basketball game.”
The Chippewas outscored Ball State 46-22 in the paint while forcing the Cardinals to commit 20 turnovers. Central Michigan turned those 20 turnovers into 32 points of their own. Sallee believes turnovers played a pivotal role in the separation that occurred in the second overtime.
“I thought we turned the ball over a little bit too much for what they were doing,” Sallee said. I think they trapped us off a ball-screen, and we turned it over, and it led to a layup. Every possession is so magnified in a game like that. You credit them. They made some plays in that second overtime.”
Senior forward Oshlynn Brown poured in 26 points and 17 rebounds to lead the Cardinals in both categories. Redshirt sophomore guard Anna Clepahne was not too far behind, with 21 points and eight rebounds. Clephane, who shot 8-of-14 from the free-throw line, hit two free-throws at the end of regulation to force overtime.
The only other player to hit double-figures was junior forward Thelma Dis Agustsdottir, who finished with 10 points.
Micaela Kelly scored 26 points to pace Central Michigan. She also grabbed 10 rebounds, all on the defensive end. Kelly was the initiator of the Chippewa offense, and Sallee credits her for staying aggressive and being effective, specifically through the lane and off ball-screens.
“Listen, Micaela Kelly is a load driving that ball,” Sallee said. “Central’s the team that when you break down defensively, they score. “When we broke down in ball screen defense, we got burned. It didn't happen a ton, but it happened enough, in a double-overtime game, where every possession is magnified.”
The Cardinals will return to Worthen Arena Saturday, March 6th, in their final regular-season contest against Western Michigan (6-14, 5-13 MAC). Ball State won the first meeting 78-71 on Jan. 30. Tipoff is 1 p.m.