Shining in the sun: Ball State defeats Georgia in last-second fashion at the Sun Coast Challenge

Junior Ally Becki dribbles the ball towards the net against Tennessee Tech Nov. 6 at Worthen Arena. Becki scores 16 points in the game. Mya Cataline, DN
Junior Ally Becki dribbles the ball towards the net against Tennessee Tech Nov. 6 at Worthen Arena. Becki scores 16 points in the game. Mya Cataline, DN

“I knew immediately when the defender was backing up that we had it. I knew we won,” junior Madelyn Bischoff said.

Head coach Brady Sallee was sure that the University of Georgia Bulldogs would chase Bischoff, the Cardinals’ most efficient shooter, so he used her to set a ball screen. With Bischoff bringing defenders, it created a double gap. This allowed junior Marie Kiefer to give the ball to junior Ally Becki with seconds left on the clock.

With time coming down to zero, Becki hit the game-winning shot. 52-51, Cardinals win. 

“I didn’t really realize I was getting the ball back until it was in my hands,” Becki said. “I was like ‘Well, I got to shoot it or something,’ I shot it, and thank God it went in honestly.” 

With her faith, Becki thanked God for the ability to make the shot and also thanked Sallee for having faith in her to score.

Though it was a nail-biting finish, Sallee said he has been through enough of the close games that it felt like a normal game at the final buzzer. 

Although Sallee wished it was different, Georgia and Ball State were in a long defensive battle for the majority of the game. 

“They impose themselves defensively, and we had to spend the entire game figuring out a way to adjust,” Sallee said. “Any points we came by were huge.” 

In the slowed game, Becki said essentially every shot the Cardinals got up had to be a good one. It forced a heavy emphasis on each possession. 

“We have never seen anything like that,” Bischoff said. “We have seen zones but we have never seen it like that. It was a 3-2 where they would cover the corners. They were really long on the front end but we could really get the shots we wanted if we moved the ball.” 

Heading into halftime down 32-22, Down at half, Becki said Sallee pushed the team to trust their training. Sallee also said the goal was to spread out the offense and play both sides of the court to eliminate some of the physicality the Bulldogs play with. 

A large part of the physicality was from Georgia’s Javyn Nicholson, Sallee said the Cardinal bigs were not expected to win all the possessions, but just win enough to win. With Kiefer finishing with four fouls and senior Annie Rauch fouling out, Sallee said they used just about all the fouls they could to stop the All-SEC level player. 

By cutting off Nicholson and spreading out the offense, Ball State forced the Bulldogs out of their zone, opening up opportunities for an eventual comeback. Wrapping up the week 2-0. 

“We had to know that we could step into a shot and be confident,” Becki said. “We had some good shots fall and good stops on the defensive end in the second half.”

Defeating two Power 5 schools - Sallee's seventh over a Power 5 - Sallee does not want the Sun Coast Challenge to be the apex of their season. 

“Clearly, it is important when we come back to build off of this,” Sallee said. “It is a good win that sends a message across the country that we got a really good basketball team, but, there is a lot of basketball to be played. That is where our focus has to remain.”

Echoing her coach, Becki is looking to the future. 

“That was fun to get a trophy like that, but I think we are trying to go further and do something bigger against the MAC,” Becki said. “I would feel better if that was the MAC Championship than anything else.”

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


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