Seniors lead Ball State women’s basketball in win over Oakland City

Senior Estel Puiggros shoots the ball for three-points against Tennessee Tech Nov. 6 at Worthen Arena. Puiggros played 18 minutes of the game. Mya Cataline, DN
Senior Estel Puiggros shoots the ball for three-points against Tennessee Tech Nov. 6 at Worthen Arena. Puiggros played 18 minutes of the game. Mya Cataline, DN

Both senior Annie Rauch and Estel Puiggros came into the Ball State women’s basketball program in 2019. Years later, their experience is still leading the Cardinals in a 95-58 win over Oakland City. 

With the energy and roles Rauch and Puiggros bring off the bench, head coach Brady Sallee said he knows they could start for Ball State, but their presence off the bench has a greater impact. 

Sallee accounted success to the buying in of the process, something Rauch and Puiggros both have done during their time in the red and white. 

Both off the bench, Puiggros dropped a personal season-high 14 points against the Oaks. Rauch had 15 points, shooting a perfect 6-for-6 from the field. 

Growing into a larger role, Puiggros has often been the sixth man for Ball State this year. Puiggros said she focuses on bringing energy into the game.

“If I see somebody is in their head, I say, “Hey, you got this,” and that we are going to be OK,” Puiggros said.

In practice, Sallee said Puiggros can always be seen patting teammates on the back, or a kick in the butt to help them improve. 

“She is looking at it as a selfless place right now,” Sallee said. “She wants everybody to play at their best and she is trying to do everything she can to do it.

“I love seeing her take that coach in the locker room mentality.”

Puiggros said she has gotten more comfortable with her shot this year. She said she has been working with coaches to improve her shot-making abilities. This year she is 43 percent from the field and 39 percent from the 3-point line. 

With help from Puiggros and Rauch, Ball State was up big. Rauch said the Cardinals continued to push and hold themselves to high standards. No matter the score, Ball State brought the full-court pressure.

“I owe it to [the players] when they come in the game, to play the way that we play,” Sallee said. “It is plain and simple, I don’t give a shit who likes it.”

The Cardinals were able to put in some players who have not seen a lot of action so far this year. Sallee said he wanted to get them more minutes, but the strength of the schedule limited minutes. 

“It was definitely good, and they have earned that time,” Sallee said. “It was good to get them out there, they will be able to work on some film and see some good and things to improve on.” 

Getting a season-high 12 minutes in the outing, freshman Ashlynn Brooke had nine points on 3-for-4 shooting from the 3-point line. 

Sallee said there are times when a player can get into their head that they won’t play, but he said that there will always be times when your number is called. With everyone getting minutes today Sallee believes it will help players always stay ready. 

With the non-conference schedule over, Ball State will start its conference season in the Mid-American Conference (MAC). 

Heading into the MAC, Sallee said the Cardinals have not hit their ceiling of play so far. He is also looking for improvements across the board. He said some points of improvement will be not being as loose with the ball, and consistently rebounding the ball.

Although there have been moments of winning the rebound battle, Sallee is looking to do it on a regular basis. He said that achieving that will get the Cardinals closer to the ceiling. 

Rauch said Ball State is bringing a lot of experience into conference play. 

“Our core group is getting older, to me it feels like our starters are still freshmen, but we are all older now,” she said. 

Finishing out 10-2 before conference play, the only two losses for Ball State came at the hands of ranked Notre Dame and UConn. 

“The thought that we have competed against these two teams [Notre Dame and UConn], and they are really good teams,” Puiggros said. “Now we can go into the conference and show what we have worked on.” 

Ball State will travel to Western Michigan in the first MAC game of the year Jan. 3. The game is set to start at 7 p.m. 

Contact Elijah Poe via email at or on X @ElijahPoe4.


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