The Ball State Cardinals faced off against the Chicago State Cougars Tuesday night. The matchup was the Cardinals’ second road game of the young season after they defeated the Troy Trojans in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) and Sun Belt Conference Challenge (SBC) challenge Saturday.
Here are three takeaways from the Ball State (3-0) win over the Cougars (0-4).
2nd quarter Cardinals
When Chicago State came to Worthen Arena a year ago, the contest was never particularly close. Ball State jumped out to a 17 point lead after the first quarter, and never let the Cougars back in the game.
Through the first eight minutes and 24 seconds Tuesday night, the Cougars were hanging around.
A three-pointer from sophomore Jacia Cunningham brought Chicago State’s deficit to just one late in the first quarter. On the other end, junior Alex Richard passed out of a double team to find junior Nyla Hampton for an easy layup.
From that point, the Cardinals proceeded to outscore the Cougars 29-7 for the rest of the half. The run saw senior Estel Puiggros score 10 points off of the bench, including two 3-pointers. Junior Ally Becki had seven of her points in the run as well.
The second quarter has been Ball State’s best quarter through three games this year. They’re outscoring opponents 78-39 in the period, doubling up their opponents.
The 23-point cushion was enough to put the game out of reach.
Follow-up acts from Bischoff and Rauch
Coming off of a game-high 22 against Troy, junior Madelyn Bischoff was putting the ball in the hoop early and often Tuesday night.
Bischoff had the hot hand in the first quarter, and her teammates were looking to find her. In a period where the Cougars were trading buckets with the Cardinals, she made all three of her 3-point attempts. Her buckets from downtown were essential to help Ball State maintain the lead throughout.
The first came on a drive-and-kick from Hampton. The second and third came off passes from Becki who had five assists in the first quarter.
Bischoff finished with 14 points in the win and is now 12-for-20 (60 percent) from 3-point land through the first three games.
Senior Annie Rauch also had a nice game off the bench against Troy, going 7-for-12 (58 percent) from the field for 17 points. In Tuesday’s contest, she had another efficient performance.
Coming off the bench once again, Rauch provided steady scoring in each quarter, finishing with a game-high 18 points on 67 percent shooting while also bringing down five rebounds.
Although it’s early in the season, it’s becoming more and more evident that the full-court press, headed up by Hampton, is going to cause problems for opponents.
The slow start the Cardinals got off to was due in-part to seven first quarter turnovers. Despite that being a high number, the margin was just -2 for Ball State in the period because of the steals and deflections they were able to create.
The Cardinals flipped the script the rest of the way, with their perimeter players forcing turnovers. Although Hampton didn’t reach her average of 5.5 steals per game, she still had 3 on the night. Sophomore Hana Mühl had two steals, while Bischoff and Becki each added a steal of their own.
Even in a game where the Cardinals committed 17 turnovers, a high number, they were still +6 in the department. That’s the advantage their pressure can give them.
Getting the turnovers is one thing, but converting on those chances is another. Ball State was able to do just that, as they earned 34 points off turnovers, compared to just 10 for Chicago State.
It all added up to an 85-56 win for the Cardinals, who are now off to their first 3-0 start since the 2017-18 season.
Ball State will return to Worthen Arena Saturday, Nov. 11, to play Northern Iowa, with tip-off scheduled for 11 a.m.