In a gymnasium nicknamed named, 'The Jungle,' head coach Brady Sallee believes the atmosphere the Cardinals played in Dec. 8 is a result of the Indiana basketball culture.
“I think that’s what a gym with teams separated by about 50 miles should feel like,” Sallee said. “It’s the state of Indiana, people are going to come out and watch some ball.”
Ball State (5-3) held off a second-half comeback to defeat IUPUI (4-4) 73-67.
The Cardinals led 20-6 after the first quarter, and were up by 20 points with two minutes and 34 seconds left in the first half. However, the Jaguars put together a comeback and tied the game with two minutes and one second remaining in the fourth quarter. Sallee said the Cardinals came out victorious because of their execution of “winning plays."
“We talk about it all the time, make winning plays,” Sallee said. “We’ll say in timeouts down the stretch, ‘it’s winning time.’
Sallee said Ball State never expected to win the game easily because of the in-state rivalry.
“We weren’t going to run away with this game, not against them,” Sallee said. “There’s pride when you play in this state.”
Redshirt junior Anna Clephane led the Cardinals in scoring for the seventh time this season with 18 points. Senior Thelma Dis Agustsdottir and junior Sydney Freeman each scored 15 points, while freshman Ally Becki chipped in 10 points.
Sallee credited the IUPUI perimeter defense for holding the Cardinals to a season-low 19% from the 3-point line.
“They guarded the three-point line better than anyone we’ve played this year,” Sallee said. “We had to win the game by two's tonight.”
IUPUI was paced by graduate student forward Macee Williams, who scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
Sallee said he took a lot of pride in how the Cardinals executed throughout the game.
“In back-to-back games, our girls have followed game plans really well, especially defensively,” Sallee said. “Talk about winning plays, I thought down the stretch, we won all those plays.”
With Mid-American Conference play starting Dec. 29, Sallee said games like this will be common.
“To go and win a game like this on the road is big,” Sallee said. “I told them we’re going to play 20 games in our league just like this.”
The Cardinals return to action Dec. 11 against Utah State (5-3). Tipoff is 1 p.m. in Worthen Arena.