One day short of a year ago, the Ball State women’s basketball team lost to Tennessee Tech University by five points to start their season 0-1.
Today, the Cardinals beat the Golden Eagles by 33 points to start their season 1-0.
Junior Ally Becki said the loss last season in their season-opener was added motivation heading into the matchup.
“We did not want to take that loss again this year,” Becki said.
The win also celebrated Ball State's seventh annual field trip day. A day when Worthen Arena is filled with elementary and middle school students with an 11:00 a.m. start time.
Head coach Brady Sallee said that there are a multitude of reasons for field trip day, but his main goal is to inspire the next generations.
“Hopefully there are kids up there that are sitting up there and are watching and really paying attention,” Sallee said. “Hopefully something strikes a cord in them to where they go ‘I want to do that.’
“We hope that is what comes out of Worthen today.”
Becki said that field trip day is able to bring a lot of excitement into Worthen.
“Nyla and I went to one of the elementary schools and made connections with them, so it was cool to see them out in the crowd and hear them cheering for us,” Becki said. “It is very fun and memorable.”
In her first game as a Cardinal, junior Nyla Hampton expected the craziness that comes with field trip day but said it delivered more. She said it was super fun to interact with the crowd.
Just after her first game in red and white, Hampton feels well adjusted to the style of basketball Ball State plays, saying she feels very integrated into the system.
“I’ve been loving playing with them and loving working out with them over the summer, so it is exciting to officially get the ball rolling,” Hampton said.
As an integrated player, Hampton led the defensive charge for the Cardinals. She had eight steals out of the 26 total turnovers Ball State was able to force on the Golden Eagles.
With the steals, Hampton brings a simple mindset to her on-ball defense.
“Don’t let them get past me,” Hampton said.
A large majority of turnovers came from the full-court press. While not planning to full-court press for 35 minutes, Sallee said it just went along with the feel of the game. He said there are going to be days where they will have to pull it back. But when change comes, he feels the Cardinals are ready for any adjustments.
“It is a system that when the snowball gets going, it can be crazy and a lot of fun,” Sallee said.
34 points came from the Ball State bench in the win. Sallee said he could not be more excited about the group. He is especially excited about sophomore Ana Barreto (or “Heat” to Sallee) and sophomore Hana Mühl.
“Those two kids did not get a lot of minutes last year,” Sallee said. “They worked and worked, doing it the right way. They are getting opportunities and they are taking full advantage of them.”
Sallee said that with Becki and Hampton playing and creating problems for guards, when Barreto and Mühl check in it will create even more problems for opposing teams.
“We do have some good depth, so as we gain experience, it is going to get better and better,” Sallee said.
Although winning by 33, Sallee said there is still room for improvement. He noted the 10 turnovers in the first half but said the team was able to improve with only four in the second.
Sallee said the Cardinals' focus is on being real when looking in the mirror about what the team is.
“The only thing that matters to us is the reflection in the mirror,” Sallee said. “We have got to see it for what it is and learn lessons. Luckily [learning lessons] off of a really good win.”
Sallee said that come Wednesday, the Cardinals are going to have to look in the mirror to see where they can improve for their game against Troy on Nov. 11, starting at 4:33 p.m. at Troy.
“Troy is really good,” Sallee said. “Got to take the show on the road now.”