“I think we were that good,” head coach Brady Sallee said. “I don't think Akron was necessarily bad. I just think we were that good.”
For Wednesday night's midweek Mid-American Conference (MAC) play it was the second-seed Ball State Cardinals and the third-seed Akron Zips. On paper, this game should be close, but it was anything but.
“Let it loose tonight, let's go play, let’s go get this thing,” Sallee said.
The Ball State’s Women’s Basketball team would do just that in their 89-66 win over Akron (13-5, 4-3 MAC) to advance to 6-1 in the MAC and also improve to 10-0 at Worthen Arena.
Sallee said when a bunch of shots are falling and going in early that this was going to be a fun game.
“You know when we're firing on all cylinders like that, it's pretty good,” Sallee said. “So impressed with my group's performance against a really good Akron team. Now we gotta get ready for the next one.”
When Sallee said a really good Akron team, he meant it, the Zips came into the game 4-2 in the MAC and had four scorers averaging ten or more points per game.
“This was a game where we had to be very specific, we had to be very detailed and we had to be very focused,” Sallee said. “We had to have a plan to keep Reagan Bass at bay. We had to know where shooters were, we had to know the three-level scores, they've got all of those things. Then you've got to get [Dominique] Camp out of the paint or she starts facilitating and causing problems, so [I] thought we were just really locked into what we were trying to do.”
The Cardinals had five scorers in double-digits, sophomore Ally Becki had 13, sophomore Madelyn Bischoff had 20, redshirt senior Anna Clephane had 10, sophomore Alex Richard had 12 and senior Annie Rauch had 12.
One of those players being “locked in” was Bischoff. She had a game-high 20 points and was 8-of-10 (80 percent) from the field. Bischoff also had a game-high for threes, she was 4-of-5 (80 percent). She said she had been working on threes specifically and that it was good to see them start to fall.
“It's my teammates, they find me when open,” Bischoff said. “So definitely a big part, literally all of it is to my teammates for finding me, so it really boosts my confidence.”
Ball State found themselves up early on a 14-0 run to start the game.
“We've been starting off slow for the past couple of games,” Becki said. “For us to finally go out there and just put it to them and just be able to not necessarily relax the entire game but to do it, play our game, have more fun with it and just not have to worry about them coming back at us. I mean, I think that's a good confidence boost.”
After being outrebounded against Central Michigan last Saturday, the Cardinals were able to win the rebound battle 40-31.
“We talked about it after the Central game,” Sallee said. “None of us were happy with the 17 O-boards [offensive rebounds] we gave up. All I did is I said okay guys, we have to respond to that, doesn't matter who we're playing. A good team responds. That's what you saw tonight was an effort to make sure that that didn't become a thing. It's again, a prideful basketball team that understands that ain't gonna work. I talked about it all the time, win or lose, you got to learn lessons, and that was the one coming out of that central game. You can't play with fire like that.”
Ball State was also able to win the points in the paint battle, which they won 38-24.
Sallee continued to show praise to the “three-headed monster” in Richards, Rauch and sophomore Marie Kiefer.
“They've got such a good post player and Reagan Bass,” Sallee said. “To know that you can go in and just keep throwing kids at or, a luxury the way the game went, was all three of my bigs were kind of in the same foul predicament she was in, but there was one of her in that foul predicament and we were spreading them across. We could keep doing what we were doing.”
The Cardinals will be at Ohio University (3-14, 1-5 MAC) on Jan. 28 at 1 p.m. for their next MAC matchup.
Contact Elijah Poe with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ElijahPoe4.