After five consecutive victories, Ball State Women’s Basketball (14-10, 7-7 in MAC) has lost three straight games after falling to Toledo (21-4, 15-1 MAC) 69-66 Feb. 19.
In its three losses, Ball State has lost by a combined 11 points. As the MAC Tournament picture takes shape, head coach Brady Sallee said the Cardinals are not capitalizing during final possessions.
“I don’t know if we’ve necessarily played any differently,” Sallee said. “We knew all of these games were going to come down to one or two possessions.”
Ball State finished 17-for-27 from the free-throw line and were outrebounded by the Rockets 44-36. Sallee said the outcome is decided by execution.
“Wins and losses are by-products of how you’re playing,” Sallee said. “All the little things and today, it was rebounding and free throws. You miss 10 free throws and a wide-open 3-pointer to send the game to overtime and you kind of scratch your head.”
The Cardinals shot 5-for-21 from the 3-point line, but Sallee said he's not concerned with Ball State's 3-point percentage because of its ability to succeed in different ways.
“You could look at the lack of 3-pointers made, but I think we’re good enough that we can win games without hitting 10 to 11 3-pointers,” Sallee said. “In spite of this, we’ve been able to defend. I mean, we walked in against a team like Toledo and held them to 37% shooting.”
The Cardinals had four players in double-digit scoring, including junior Annie Rauch with 14 points. Junior Syndey Freeman and freshman Ally Becki each contributed 11 points while freshman Marie Kiefer added 10 points.
The Rockets were paced by junior guard Quinesha Lockett with 21 points and seven rebounds.
Moving forward, Sallee said Ball State can't afford to make mistakes, as redshirt junior Anna Clephane remains sidelined with a season-ending injury suffered Jan. 9.
“It’s been well documented how much the loss of Anna [Clephane] has meant,” Sallee said. “In a nutshell, it means there’s no margin for error. What a team has to do is intensely focus on the little things that win games like taking care of the ball, rebounding and making free throws.”
With five games remaining until the MAC Tournament March 9, Sallee said he knows the Cardinals have room to improve with their youth and willingness to improve.
“I think we’ve got room to get better,” Sallee said. “If you think about it, we’ve got freshmen out there that are grinding and will continue to improve. If we focus on getting better for the next game, the rest will take care of itself.”
The Cardinals return to Worthen Arena Feb. 21 against Western Michigan (14-10, 8-7 MAC). Tipoff is 6:30 p.m.