After winning three consecutive games from Dec. 8-20, Ball State (9-6, 2-3 MAC) has failed to put together back-to-back wins since Mid-American Conference (MAC) games started Jan. 1.
The Cardinals failed to extend their winning streak to two Jan. 15 in a 83-76 loss against Akron (7-4, 4-1 MAC).
After the Zips outscored the Cardinals 43-36 in the second half, head coach Brady Sallee said Ball State didn't defend with enough effort.
“We let ourselves down defensively and rebounding the ball,” Sallee said. “Any time those two things go south, it’s going to take a superhuman effort to win.”
Freshman Ally Becki played a career-high 37 minutes and recorded her first career double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. She added seven assists and finished 2-of-2 from the 3-point line. Sallee said a game like this has been on the way for Becki.
“She was aggressive offensively and rebounding the heck out of the ball,” Sallee said. “When the ball was in her hands, most of the time good things happened.”
The Cardinals were led in scoring by graduate student Chyna Latimer, who made her second consecutive start with redshirt junior Anna Clephane out with injury. Latimer scored 17 points and made 4-of-4 from the free-throw line. Sallee said Latimer has been “the player we need her to be” in her two starts since Clephane’s injury Jan. 9.
Ball State shot 10-of-10 from the free-throw line and 29-of-56 from the field. Sallee said he was pleased with the Cardinals offensive effort and acknowledged the strong percentages.
“Offensively, I thought everything was fine,” Sallee said. “We shot over 50% from the field and 100% from the [free-throw] line, we just didn’t get there enough.”
Akron was paced by a double-double from redshirt senior forward Jordyn Dawson, who scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Sallee credited Dawson for her performance and described her as “a hell of a player."
“We couldn’t afford for [Jordyn] Dawson to play well and make the others around her better,” Sallee said.
After three games in a span of six days, including two on the road, Sallee said its “taken its toll."
“Your mental toughness on a week like this has to be ironclad,” Sallee said. “We have to find a way to tough our way through these three-game weeks, we have more coming. I really think the week got to us. We played like a worn down basketball team today and it showed in all the toughness stats. Even when you’re tired, you still have to produce. Basketball doesn’t care if you’re tired or not.”
The Cardinals return to Worthen Arena Jan. 19 against Toledo (12-3, 6-0 MAC ). Tipoff is 6:30 p.m.