“They don't give trophies out February 1.”
That was head coach Brady Sallees' response after being asked about looking to the Mid-American Conference (MAC) tournament next month.
“I think we can do better and have to do better,” Sallee said. “If we're serious about wanting to be the last man standing.”
Ball State Women’s Basketball advanced to 8-1 in the MAC and is now 11-0 at home this season after defeating the Northern Illinois Huskies (10-10, 2-7 MAC) 76-68.
When asked about still being undefeated at home it was an easy answer for redshirt senior Anna Clephane.
“I wasn't really aware of that, so I guess not a huge factor,” Clephane said. “Obviously it is always protects the home court and that means a lot to this team. I think that's always in the back of our minds when we're going out there and playing.”
Clepahane was the leading scorer for the Cardinals. She had 16 points and was 7-of-11 (64 percent) from the field.
Sallee backed up Clephane on the home record. Although saying it was great for the community, it was not what the team is worried about.
“If they gave a trophy for being undefeated at home, we might pay attention to it,” Sallee said. “If they said ‘hey, you can get in the NCAA tournament if you go undefeated at home,’ we might pay attention to it. Other than that, it is great, we take a lot of pride here, but we try to win them all. All we're going to talk about and all we do talk about is going 1-0.”
Sophomore Madelyn Biscoff was another player who led the Cardinals, and it has not been her first time helping Ball State in the past couple of games. She had 15 points and was 6-of-8 (75 percent) from the field and 3-of-4 (75 percent) from 3-point range. In the past six games, she is averaging 12.2 points per game.
“I'm definitely just working on my own green light that is a huge factor in that,” Bischoff said. It's just like a three-point drill that we do as a team, so I think that's a really big part of it too. And just having confidence.”
It was a close game for the Cardinals, Sallee said it was a great spot for the team to be in.
“We haven't been in many of these [close games], where we had to call timeouts, advance, and we had a four-point lead, we got to get the ball in, we got to get to the free throw line, we got to make it,” Sallee said. “Because we've been ahead a lot more, we salted games away or run people out. So this was good for us to play in this game and get a feel for what we got to do and how we got to do it. On a live ball, I put them in a press offense that we don't have a call for, we’ve drawn it up a couple of times but they knew exactly what to do. We were able to get the ball into Anna [Clephane]. Those kinds of moments in the middle of the season are crucial that you can be in there and you can learn from it, you can understand it and you can execute at a high level too. So this is good.”
Sallee also gave a lot of credit to the Huskies. With a big win over Toledo, their conference record might not tell their full story.
Ball State outscored Northern Illinois in the paint 48-26, with Sallee saying that is how the Cardinals were able to win the game.
The Huskies did shoot 30 3-point shots, hitting 10 of them.
“You go back to the film and you look at if they are good threes,” Sallee said. “I thought we did a pretty good job of making them one-dimensional, making them count on threes. They shot it pretty well from out there but couldn't make enough of them. They couldn't offset it with points in the paint either.”
The usual heavy 3-point shooting team was not apparent today, only taking 19 3-point shots. Out of those 19, they made six of them (31.6 percent).
“We shot 52% [from the field] and I think we can run some offense better,” Sallee said. We put in a couple of wrinkles early this week and [I] thought we ran them pretty well and got some good stuff out of them that way.”
The Cardinals will be back at home to face MAC opponent Kent State on Feb. 4 at 11 a.m. in their next contest.
Contact Elijah Poe with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ElijahPoe4.