In the first few minutes of the third quarter against BYU, Ball State’s second-year guard Ally Becki fouled a Cougar player when she went up for a layup.
The player then grabbed Becki, and then she returned a shove. The officials and teammates pulled the two players away from each other. After more than five minutes of huddling and reviewing, both players were given technical fouls.
Following the moment, Becki was booed every time she had the ball, but she did not let that impact her play. With the clock winding down in the fourth quarter, she tear-dropped a layup off the glass to put the Cardinals (4-2) up five and sealed the victory with a score of 61-56.
“I knew when the crowd started in on her like that, it was a wrong move,” head coach Brady Sallee said. “She kind of feeds off that kind of stuff. And I thought she handled herself well.”
Ball State's shooting did not start off well at the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah, only hitting three of its first nine shots, trailing BYU (2-5) 7 of 9 (77 percent). The missed shots also led to BYU rebounds as the Cougars outrebounded the Cardinals by eight in the first half.
“Because of our willingness to shoot the three and our ability to shoot for three as well as we do, coming to Utah from Muncie, Indiana, they probably didn't know a ton about us,” Sallee said. “Other than the stats, you know, they look at it up until now, we weren't shooting the ball really well.”
Even with the shooting issues, the Cardinals were never out of the game. The two teams were tied 14-14 at the end of the first quarter and BYU led by just three going into halftime.
Coming into the third quarter, and the minor scuffle, the team started to click. Fourth-year guard Anna Clephane helped keep the Cardinals in the game. She was 4 of 8 (50 percent) and had 12 points.
“I think that it just says we have so much talent,” she said. “They can't stop us because they can shut down one player, but then we just go to the next and the next and the next.”
Not just on offense, Ball State picked up the pace on defense. In the first half, they gave up 35 points, but only 21 in the second. Clephane was impressed with the second half showing.
“I think that in time, we had a better understanding of where they were looking to get the ball and what we needed to do,” she said.
After the technical foul, Becki helped get the Cardinals a lead and hold on to it.
“I haven't been shooting the ball that much,” Becki said. "And a lot of my teammates and coaches have been telling me to look for my shot more.”
Becki said she believes that the road trip added to their victory. The team left Tuesday morning at 2:45 in the morning to head out west.
“I think we knew that this was our last day out here,” she said. “We didn't want to waste our time losing to BYU and just finishing them out.”
To Coach Sallee, this is what college basketball is all about.
“These trips are always priceless,” he said. “Not necessarily because of the competition. But you know, the time spent just hanging out, the time spent going to see different places of the country that they've never been and experienced and that together and then you know, you fight together and go get a big W you know, those kinds of things are what you remember when your career is long gone.”
He went on to mention that “this is why we do it” and that he is “proud of how his team has handled this week."
The Cardinals will look to add to their win streak when they face Western Kentucky at home Dec. 2 at 6:30 pm.