At the end of the first quarter, Miami (OH) was up 22-10 on the Ball State Women’s Basketball, and the Cardinals head coach Brady Sallee said he stayed patient on the outside but on the inside he was “ready to hurt somebody”. The Cardinals were coming off a 83-76 road loss to Toledo (11-3, 2-1 MAC), and in their first quarter of play afterward, their opponent went on a 7-0 run to start the game and held them scoreless in the final 5:26 of the quarter.
By the time the game reached the fourth quarter, it was all smiles from the Cardinals as they, along with the reported 3,134 in attendance, were having fun watching players make an impact in the program’s record books and ultimately win the game. It’s safe to say the Cardinals (13-4, 3-1 MAC) turned it around after their first quarter struggles, as they came out 92-61 victors against the Redhawks (6-11, 1-3 MAC).
Redshirt senior Anna Clephane was one of two Cardinals that made history in the win, as she scored her 1,000th career point in the third quarter, becoming the 10th player to reach this mark under Sallee. This moment was especially meaningful to Clephane, as she had missed significant time in two of her four previous seasons with the Cardinals due to two separate ACL tears.
“It's an accolade I wasn't sure I'd ever get to or be able to get to, so it means a lot that my family is in the stands cheering me on and we have such a good following, and then it just kind of exploded in [Worthen],” Clephane said. “Being with the team that I'm with is the most important thing to me because everyone's just so loving and [cheers] me on. It felt really good.”
Her best friend, roommate and teammate, Thelma Dis Agustsdottir, has been with Clephane throughout her entire journey to reach 1,000 points, something she said she’s proud of. Appropriately, the graduate student also made an impact in Ball State’s record books in this contest, moving to third all-time in 3-pointers made in the program’s history.
When she was told about reaching this mark, Dis Agustsdottir and Sallee exchanged a look and said they didn’t know about it beforehand. So far this season, Dis Agustsdottir is averaging over 13 points per game and is shooting over 40 percent from beyond the arc, something she said comes down to being comfortable in the program and system.
“All my years [at Ball State] I've been shooting the ball I would say pretty well, but this year I've just felt good. I don't know how to describe it,” Dis Agustsdottir said.
As the two close friends reflected on achieving momentous career accomplishments in the same game, Clephane said she wouldn’t have it any other way. Sallee, who has formed a close relationship with each player over the course of their five years in the program, said today was an emotional day for him after watching Clephane and Dis Agustsdottir achieve high marks knowing what they’ve been through off the court.
“Got a lot more story to write,” Sallee said.
It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows after the first quarter, however, as for a brief moment, the Cardinals experienced an injury scare from sophomore Ally Becki. She went down with a hard fall after attempting a layup in the third quarter, with a Redhawk falling on her legs afterward.
Becki needed help off the court and into the trainer’s room, favoring her right knee that sidelined her during Jan. 7’s win over Western Michigan (7-8, 2-2 MAC). However, a few minutes later she returned to Ball State’s bench without a limp and returned to the game shortly thereafter to earn a 10-point, 11-assist double-double.
Sallee said while there was an initial scare when Becki went down, the Cardinals’ trainer and Becki herself assured him she was well enough to play.
“Any player that goes down, you have that pit in your stomach,” Sallee said. “... [Was] certainly happy to see her come back out, and she gave me the nod and I probably asked her three times, ‘Are you sure, you sure, you sure?’ I trust her.”
This 91-62 win was the highest scoring mark in conference play this season for the Cardinals, and was the fewest points Ball State has allowed in MACtion this season as well. Although the Redhawks had four players in double figures, including sophomore guard Ivy Wolf’s 19 points, the Cardinals did too, including a season-high 25 from Clephane.
Additionally, this win meant Ball State has still not lost two games in a row this season, something Clephane credited to the Cardinals’ experience in knowing how to move on from losses and bounce back. Dis Agustsdottir was a big part of that, playing 37 minutes, dropping 20 points (6-10 from three) and grabbing eight rebounds.
“We just know in MAC play, you can’t stick with a loss,” Dis Agustsdottir said. “We know every game is a big game, and we just got to be ready for the next one.”
Finally, the 31-point win continued Ball State’s home winning streak to nine games (8-0 at home this season). As well as feeding off family and friends in the crowd, Clephane said she feels the Cardinals are so strong at home because of the pride the Cardinals have in their program and their “protect the floor mentality”.
This contest was the first of two games in a Worthen Arena doubleheader, as Ball State and Miami (OH)’s men’s teams matched up at 2 p.m. afterward. While Sallee joked the varsity team played before the junior varsity team in this instance, he noted the importance of playing in Muncie.
“It's fun to play here, and I think part of that following makes this a tough place to play, on top of how good we are,” Sallee said. “That's what you want in a home court advantage, and we definitely had it today.”
Ball State returns to action Jan. 18 at Buffalo (7-5, 2-1 MAC) at 6 p.m.