Ball State earns six-game win streak with overtime victory at Akron

Junior Ally Becki dribbles the ball towards the net against Northern Iowa Nov. 18 at Worthen Arena. Mya Cataline, DN
Junior Ally Becki dribbles the ball towards the net against Northern Iowa Nov. 18 at Worthen Arena. Mya Cataline, DN

In the four quarters that led up to overtime, Ball State struggled to get perimeter shots to fall. Yet with 20 seconds left and the red and black up 67-64, the Cardinals had a chance to seal the victory. 

At the top of the key stood junior Ally Becki, who looked for an opportunity to rise. 

“You got to get the ball around either way," Becki said. “If I can make a play by shooting and making it, that's great. But if I also make a play by shooting it and it comes up short, I know my teammates will come in and get a rebound.”

However, she did not need the other four Cardinals to grab the basketball. She led her defender into the paint, stepped back, and drained the jumper. This allowed Ball State to go on and take the 71-64 victory. 

While he jokingly said he expects all of her shots to go in, head coach Brady Sallee had a front-row seat for this one. 

“I happened to be lined up almost directly behind her,” he said. “And as soon as [the ball] left her hands, I said ‘that’s good.’ It was just pure.” 

The Cardinals’ second Mid-American Conference win of the season did not play out exactly as their 12th-year head coach wanted. While their defense was on point, their ability to turn that into points was not always present.

“Over the course of a game, they're going to go in. There's really not an alternative,” Sallee said.  “When teams develop a plan to force you into shooting those shots, you live and die with some of those makes sometimes.” 

Yet the Cardinals – who finished 24-for-62 (38.7 percent) and 8-for-25 (32 percent) from deep – were not the only ones to falter on offense. The Zips went 24-for-58 (41.4 percent) and 7-for-21 (33.3 percent) from three-point range. 

With the misses came rebounds. While Akron led in the category with 43 rebounds, Ball State’s 37 were what allowed the Cardinals to stay competitive. Senior Annie Rauch was a key contributor on the boards as she finished the game with a double-double, which consisted of 14 points and 10 rebounds 

“She went and crashed, which was really a huge game changer for us,” Becki said. “And then [her] finding us for shots was even more important.”

Another component that helped the red and black was that they only had 11 turnovers compared to Akron's 20. While those items helped, the Cardinals continued to battle as the Zips refused to give an inch. The fourth quarter started with a one-point Ball State lead that was lost a few minutes later. At the 3:36 minute mark, the Cardinals trailed 56-50. It seemed like Akron had all of the momentum.

However, the Cardinals started to find their stride and found themselves down three as the final minute began. After junior Madelyn Bischoff grabbed a rebound from an Akron miss, Becki launched a corner three that was off. Yet again, junior Nyla Hampton snatched the rebound and passed it to Becki, who found Bischoff in the opposite corner for the game-tying three-pointer. 

That play and two made free throws by Becki sent the 60-60 game into overtime. 

“Whether you call that a reset button or just taking a deep breath and understanding what we had to do over the next five minutes,” Sallee said. “That [play] became big for us.” 

In that moment, the Cardinals knew what they needed to do.

“This was one of the first ever games [for us] being behind like that and having to mug it out at the end,” Becki said. “ We talked to each other in the huddle and said we had to hunker down, defend, and finish it out.” 

After leaving that huddle, the Cardinals did just that. They held the Zips to just four points, which allowed Becki’s shot to be the cherry on top. 

“It’s just a conference [game], and it’s kind of the way it is,” Sallee said. “And you're gonna have to go win a couple of games like this. Hopefully not too many or I might have a heart attack.” 

The win keeps the Cardinals’ six-game win streak alive as they now look towards the future as they face Buffalo at Worthen Arena on Wednesday, Jan. 10. The contest will start at 6:30 p.m.

Though, to Becki -- who finished the game with 20 points -- this win might show what the rest of this season could look like. 

“Even if we are not shooting the best or it's not one of our best games, we can still go out there and compete,” she said. “We're not going out without a fight and there's a lot more in this team.” 

Contact Zach Carter with comments at or on X @ZachCarter85.


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