That is the distance between Ball State and IUPUI.
Being an in-state school brings competition, and there is no doubt there is a rivalry between the two schools and their women’s basketball teams.
“We're a big game on their schedule,” head coach Brady Sallee said. “I mean, you know, an hour up the road, they want every bit of this and the chance to beat us and believe me when I tell you they’d enjoy winning if they do. Our kids had to make this a big game on our schedule that might be a little bit harder but that's not I'm not being disrespectful it's just a little bit different.”
A Rock fight.
What head coach Brady Sallee told his players before the game, and in the end, he was right.
“Some might call that ugly basketball, I call it winning basketball when you can't get shots to drop and you still find a way,” he said. “You know, you've heard us talk about it all year long like, one of the commitments we had to make this year was to defend and I think you saw it in spades today.”
At the end of the so-called “rock fight,” Ball State won 61-54. The Cardinals move to 7-2 and the Jaguars fall to 4-5.
The first half did not see many points, and Ball State and IUPUI were searching for any bucket they could get. It would take two minutes and ten seconds into the game before someone scored.
“In a game like this, where you can't get them to drop and everything is absolutely a grind," Sallee You know, now you see what you're made of. For us to be able to do that, and really had very minimal breakdowns defensively, and make them really earn and they hit some big shots but they had to earn them.”
Sallee gave credit to IUPUI’s head coach, Kate Bruce. He said Bruce was doing a wonderful job putting her stamp down at IUPUI and how hard the team plays.
“It was a heck of a game between two teams with a lot of pride and we'll certainly take it and feel good about what we did to get it,” Sallee said.
Sophomore Ally Becki led the Cardinals with a double-double. She had 20 points and 14 rebounds. Becki was essentially everywhere on the court. While not being the tallest player for the Cardinals, the next closest player on the team in rebounds had seven. Becki was making plays all game.
Underneath the goal, inbound pass, Becki was on the throw in and her defender had her back turned to help other players on defense. Instead of the conventional pass to her teammate, Becki threw the ball off of the defender’s back, giving herself a reverse layup.
This was not the only outstanding play Becki would have, with the Cardinals' last possession of the first half, she came down and drilled a top-of-the-key three, making it a two-point game going into halftime.
“I just say shows a lot about our team and people stepping up and talking in huddles while there are dead balls and just being leaders and just uplifting everyone and I think that shows a lot about our team,” Becki said.
Another team leader was sophomore Alex Richard. She was heavily involved in the defensive efforts due to sophomore Marie Kiefer being in foul trouble for essentially the whole game.
When asked about her performance, Richard gave a lot of credit to her preparation.
“Honestly, I wasn't worried about my personal performance," she said. "I just knew that we prepared a lot and I just needed to remember all the preparation and everything that was told to me just to do. I mean, with doing well, I guess comes more playing time with it.”
Cutting her off, Sallee said, “but how do you think YOU did.” After some encouragement (and an answer) from Sallee, Richard gave a short and sweet response.
Going along with the “rock fight” mentality, free throws were a big help for the Cardinals. Ball State was 17-of-25 (68 percent) from the charity swipe.
“Well, in a game like this you gotta manufacture points, so being able to get yourself to the free throw line becomes monumental,” Sallee said. “You know, maybe in some other games it doesn't come into a factor that but in this one, every point was going to matter."
Sallee had nothing but praise for his team that is now on a five-game winning streak.
“I'm not afraid to use the word impressed with this group,” Sallee said. “I'm impressed with the way they show up at practice like tomorrow, we've been however many days in a row without a day off and we've had game after game after game and there'll be up in the morning lifting at 7:30 [a.m.]. They'll do their work and they'll come in and afternoon and we'll put a plan together.”
Sallee said that the ability to gameplan and give effort is something that is different than any other group he has been with. He is also accredited with the team allowing him to coach them hard. Sallee said he is able really to push his team and the players have trust in him and what he is doing for the program.
The Cardinals will next be in action against the University of Pittsburg, at Pitt on Dec. 1, with tip-off at 12 p.m.