A season highlighted with records comes to an end for Ball State Women’s Basketball in the second round of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT).
Right from the start, Memphis was able to control the Cardinals, eventually leading to a 79-62 win for the Tigers.
The Tigers’ roaring start
When teams idealize a “perfect start” to a basketball game, everything Memphis (22-10) did against Ball State (26-9) checks the boxes.
The Tigers started the game off with a 3-pointer, seconds into the game. In the first 55 seconds of the contest, Memphis found itself up 8-0.
The Tigers came back down the court, hit another three, 11-0.
After a Ball State timeout, guess what the Tigers did? Hit another three. After all things were said and done, Memphis started the game on a 20-0 run.
Ball State opened up without scoring for the first 5:45 of the game.
In the first round of the WNIT against Belmont March 16, the Cardinals found themselves putting up two 30-point quarters, and tonight they opened up with just 10 points in the first quarter.
Memphis in the first quarter was 9-of-17 (53 percent) from the field and 5-of-8 (63 percent) from the 3-point line.
Ball State in the first was 3-of-16 (19 percent) from the field and 0-of-7 (that’s a big 0 percent) from the 3-point line.
While it has not been unusual to see the Cardinals start down after the first quarter, even starting down 11 to Belmont just days ago, today they started down 21-10 after ten minutes of play.
Ball State fights back in the second quarter
From down 16 to down seven in ten minutes. Ball State outscored the Tigers 22-13 in the second quarter.
The Cardinals climbed out of a pit to improve their shooting percentage to 33 percent going into halftime. Redshirt senior Anna Clephane led Ball State with seven points after 20 minutes, four of them coming from the free throw line.
The partial comeback was also helped by a pair of 3-pointers from graduate student Thelma Dis Agustsdottir, one of them being a little more important than the other. Her second three of the night capped her breaking the all-time program record for total 3-pointers made with 324.
Capping off the comeback was none other than freshman Hana Mühl. As time expired, a volleyball line heave and bank off the glass put the Cardinals within single digits with 20 minutes left to go.
The third quarter resulted in much of the same with both teams scoring 21 points and Ball State down seven with only 10 minutes to play and the season on the line.
In the build up to a loss, mistakes add up
Foul trouble, rebounds, long scoring droughts and the pace of play was just too much to overcome for Ball State.
Sophomore Ally Becki had four fouls, sophomore Marie Kiefer had four fouls, Clephane had three fouls and sophomore Alex Richard had three fouls.
Ball State was out rebounded 44-20 with 12 offensive rebounds, each and every one of those gave the Tigers another look at the basket.
Just like the Cardinals 10-point first quarter, they scored fewer points than that with nine points in the critical fourth quarter.
Fifth-year guard Jamirah Shutes led the Tigers with 23 points, and junior guard Emani Jefferson added 15 points.
Memphis was able to run the floor and be extremely physical with its pace of play, dominating the pace and deciding the tone for the game.
The biggest takeaway for Ball State has to be the 20-point deficit to start the game. Being behind that severely that early on in a game makes an uphill battle for the rest of the game, and quite frankly, 20 points are just enough to almost be impossible to overcome.
It was only fitting for the two players moving on, Clephane and Dis Agustsdottir, to lead the Cardinals on their way out. Clephane finished with 15 points and Dis Agustsdottir finished with 11.