CLEVELAND – The stage is set, and the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Women’s basketball tournament is underway. Winning means surviving and moving on to the next game, losing means the season is over.
At the end of the final buzzer, No. 3 Ball State topped No. 6 Akron with a final score of 92-68, surviving and moving on.
Slow first start for the Cardinals… again
Ball State (25-7) opened up the first quarter with slow basketball, and this is definitely not the first time.
With 3:40 left in the first quarter, the Zips held a 14-9 lead.
Senior forward Molly Neitzel had seven of the 14 points.
Akron was shooting 6-of-9 (66 percent) from the field and 2-of-2 from the 3-point line.
On the other side of the court, Ball State started 4-of-10 (40 percent) from the field and 1-of-4 (25 percent) from the 3-point line.
Even with the Cardinals bringing down the lead to just one, at 20-19 going into the second quarter, it was yet another game where Ball State struggled to create efficient offense early.
The change in the offense for Ball State came from sophomore Alex Richard. In her only three minutes of playing in the first half, she picked up seven points. Those seven points from Richard helped the Cardinals find a flow in their offense and led to a comeback and lead change.
Going into halftime, the lead flipped, and Ball State was leading Akron 41-31. The Cardinals were shooting 14-of-30 (47 percent) from the field whereas the Zips were shooting 13-of-29 (45 percent) from the field.
Anna Clephane and Thelma Dis Agustsdottir step up on the big stage
First team All-MAC, the Ball State season-leading scorer with 16.2 points a game and a leader for the team. All things about Clephane.
All-MAC honorable mention, second in all-time three-pointers made at Ball State, fourth in scoring this season. All things about Dis Agustsdottir.
It is no surprise the redshirt senior and graduate student, respectively, immediately took a big position in the first half with each of them having 10 points.
Clephane also led the team in field goals with four, 4-of-10 (40 percent), going into halftime. Both Clephane and Dis Agustsdottir also led the team in three-pointers with two each.
At the final buzzer, Clephane had 20 points and shot 7-of-16 (44 percent). Dis Agustsdottir had 16 points with four three-pointers, and she is now only 10 away from breaking the Ball State record in all-time three-pointers made.
Stopping Dominique Camp and Reagan Bass
Bass, the sophomore All-MAC First Team honoree, has averaged 16.9 points this season, and Camp has averaged 10.6, each of them topping a lot of Akron’s season highs.
With Bass being able to dominate the paint and Camp being able to facilitate the ball, it’s a recipe for a good duo on the offensive side.
Bass finished with 24 points and was 9-of-12 (75 percent) from the field. Camp finished with 18 points and five assists.
(Ball) STATEment win
Going into the fourth quarter, three out of the five starting Ball State players were in double-digit scoring. With the exception of Richard, the starting five was dominant on the points side of the team.
The starters had 70 of the total 92 points. 92 points tie the most scored against a MAC team this season for Ball State.
Richard ended the game with a career-high 19 points and was 8-of-10 (80 percent) from the field.
Facing the No. 6 seed Akron was no easy contest, to say the least. Head coach Brady Sallee said their zone defense is tough to play against, and the last time the two faced off, the Zips created problems for Ball State. The Cardinals were able to scrape by with a 61-56 win at Akron, thanks to help from Clephane who had 26 points.
With any conference tournament, each game has the potential to be close, but this was an exception, with the play of the starting five and Richard being able to control the game.
Ball State is set to take on No. 2 seed Bowling Green (26-5) on March 10 at approximately 12:30 p.m. in the semifinals of the MAC tournament.