In a game of runs, Ball State Women's Basketball defeats Akron through stifling defense

Women's basketball head coach Brady Sallee coaches from the sidelines during an exhibition game against Wheeling University Nov. 1 at Worthen Arena. Amber Pietz, DN
Women's basketball head coach Brady Sallee coaches from the sidelines during an exhibition game against Wheeling University Nov. 1 at Worthen Arena. Amber Pietz, DN

For 10 minutes and 31 seconds, Ball State Women’s Basketball held Akron to just two points. From the 5:05 mark in the first quarter until the 5:36 mark in the second quarter, the Cardinals went on a 17-2 run. 

Then, by the end of the first half, the Zips cut Ball State’s lead down to two points. After Ball State got off to another hot start in the third quarter, outscoring Akron 21-15, the Zips went on a 12-2 run in the fourth quarter, helping them tie the game with 3:41 left. 

Fast forward to the end of the game and Ball State secured a 61-56 victory off the back of  a 5-0 run in the final 3:41.

“We know we're good enough to defend and get wins, but it's just one of those deals at this point in the season, where you kind of have that, ‘Just win, baby,’ mentality,” Ball State head coach Brady Sallee said. “Because, let's face it, every team right now across the country is who they are.” 

Sallee said the game of basketball is a game of runs, especially when two good teams are playing one another. He isn’t concerned about Ball State’s (21-4, 11-1 MAC) at times streaky play being a detriment in the MAC Championship Tournament. 

Redshirt senior Anna Clephane agreed. In fact, she counts this tendency as a positive.

“It definitely is a thing because we feed off of each other's energy and when one person starts going off, we just get hype for each other,” Clephane said. “I think that it can definitely be a good thing when we go on our runs, but we don't really let it get us too down when it's not our turn for a run. We know that it's coming and we're pretty level headed in that way.”

Senior forward Annie Rauch (left), redshirt senior guard Anna Clephane (middle), and graduate student Thelma Dis Agustdottir (right) celebrates a made basket in a game against Akron Jan. 25 at Worthen Arena. The Cardinals dominated the Zips as they won 89-66. Brayden Goins, DN

Clephane’s 26 points against Akron (14-9, 5-7 MAC) matched her career high and set a new season high. She said her ability to lead in any way, whether it be on the offensive or defensive end, says more about the Cardinals as a whole than it does about herself. 

“It's a confidence builder, for sure,” Clephane said. “That's the good thing about this team is that on any given night, it could be any of us stepping up and one person is not going to be able to have a great game every game, so being able to pick our teammates up and go off when it's your turn, I think it's just important to be ready to step up when you know you have to. Today it was me and tomorrow it could be someone else.” 

Defense has been a calling card for Ball State throughout the season, and in back-to-back games, the Cardinals have allowed the fewest points in conference play so far this season. Not only that, but they forced 23 turnovers in each contest, both the most in conference play this season.

“It was especially big this afternoon just because every bucket seemed to be at a premium,” Sallee said. “We clearly struggled to score, so on a night like that, where any bucket is huge, it was everything.” 

The Cardinals’ 61 points is the least they’ve scored in conference play this season, however, their win earned them an 11-1 conference start, the best in program history. Despite being outrebounded 40-29, shooting 38 percent from the field and making the fewest threes in a conference game this season, shooting 3-26 (14 percent), Ball State won its ninth straight. 

Sallee said while Ball State hasn’t completely cracked the code to where they feel like they’re at their best on every level, he does feel assured the Cardinals are always in a spot to compete, no matter the circumstance.

“We have some confidence in that we can go out and win against anybody,” Sallee said. “I think at this point in the year I trust them, I think they trust each other and come hell or high water, this group seems to find a way to win, and that's a good feeling to have.”

Ball State returns to action Feb. 15 against Ohio (5-18, 3-9 MAC) at 6:30 p.m. in Muncie, Ind.

Contact Kyle Smedley with comments via email at or on Twitter @KyleSmedley_.


More from The Daily

This Week's Digital Issue

Loading Recent Classifieds...