Ball State took on the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) in a top-ten-ranked matchup between the two mid-major programs.
The Cardinals sit at No. 6 in the mid-major poll, whereas the Panthers came into Worthen Arena ranked No. 8.
The top-ten matchup did not disappoint, with a close back-and-forth battle that ended in a Ball State 75-64 win over UNI.
Back and forth first quarter
Coming into the action today, it was apparent with two highly touted programs it was going to be competitive.
Both squads posted a shooting percentage of around 50 percent, and both made two 3-pointers in the first quarter.
Ball State was the first on the board and took advantage of the paint quickly in the first quarter, driving to get open and contested attempts.
Although the Cardinals started with the lead, a Panthers 7-0 run tied things mid-way through the quarter.
After the UNI run, both teams were locked in a back-and-forth style of basketball. After ten minutes, Ball State led 20-16.
Juniors Nyla Hampton and Madelyn Bischoff led the Cardinals with eight points each. The Panthers were led by the Missouri Valley Conference Preseason Player of the Year junior Grace Boffeli. She had six points in the first ten minutes.
Paint heavy first half
Although Ball State has been known to shoot from the 3-point line (they still do, they shot 15 of them in the first 20 minutes, making five of them), the Cardinals earned a majority of their points in the first half from the paint.
A large credit to their paint presence was not the usual point players for Ball State, it was Hampton. She had 10 points and was 5-for-11 (45 percent) from the field in the first half. All 10 points were in the paint off of drives. In total, Ball State had 16 points in the paint in the first half.
On the other side of the court, with a player like Boffeli, the Panthers relied on the paint presence heavily. Boffeli was 5-for-7 (71 percent) with 10 points in the first half, all coming from the paint as well.
UNI led Ball State 18-16 on rebounds in the first 20 minutes. The Cardinals boasted three offensive rebounds, whereas the Panthers had one. Although the stat is only two more rebounds, the offensive boards were able to give Ball State another opportunity to score.
Madelyn Bischoff’s start to the season
Coming into today's game, Bischoff was 12-20 from the 3-point line. Shooting 60 percent from a line where most people would say 40 percent is great.
In the past two games against Troy and Chicago State University, Bischoff started 3-for-3 from the line. Today, although she did not start 3-for-3, she finished the game 5-for-8 (63 percent).
After the game today, Bischoff was able to uphold her 60 percent from the arch.
Before the season, with the loss of Anna Clephane and Thelma Dis Agustsdottir a position on the team opened up on who was going to be the Cardinals' No. 1 from the 3-point line. With the position open, it is safe to say it looks as if Bischoff has filled the role.
With a team that shoots around 20 3-pointers a night, it is an essential aspect of the game for Ball State. That being said, with someone leading that aspect at such a high percentage, it is a key for the Cardinals' offense this year.
Contact Elijah Poe via email at email@example.com or on X @ElijahPoe4.