After a squirrely shoot-around before the game, head coach Brady Sallee could have been worried.
A player came up to Sallee with a wink and told him “Coach, we got this.”
Knowing his team, he trusted them. Sallee said the players walked him off the ledge of worry, and he said he knew they could stick to the plan and will their way to a win.
The last meeting saw the Falcons come on top in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) tournament - today the Cardinals defeated Bowling Green 76-61. Junior Madelyn Bischoff said there is a rivalry between the two teams, and the loss in the MAC tournament last year was in the back of her mind today.
Whenever Ball State and Bowling Green women’s basketball face off both sides expect a physical battle.
Brady Sallee said the Cardinals have not seen the same physicality out of a team since playing Georgia in December.
Being a physical battle, the Cardinals finished the game with 23 fouls, with four of their five starters playing with three fouls for the majority of the game. Regardless of the foul trouble, the Cardinals did not waiver. Sallee said the team was able to not miss a beat and continue to play with some starters in limited minutes.
“It is the way we practice, I do not think any of us are surprised,” Sallee said. “It was great to see them step up to the plate and make sure this game went the right way.”
Ball State outrebounded the Falcons 21-11 in the first half and ended the game outrebounding Bowling Green 36-30. Sallee said rebounding is an emphasis every day, but his player's ability to go execute what is needed is the main reason why they are able to win.
“They just understand that this is what we got to do to go win,” Sallee said.
Minus the fouls, the first half of basketball for Ball State was exactly what Sallee wanted to see.
“We imposed ourselves defensively with the press and what we were doing in the half-court,” Sallee said.
Speaking on defense, Sallee couldn’t say enough about Bischoff. He said her effort on both ends of the court was like no other.
Bischoff guarded the fifth-year senior Morgan Sharps for the whole game. Sharps averages 12.6 points per game but only scored two points today with Bischoff guarding her on defense.
“I was really trying to not let her get a shot off, and that was the plan,” Bischoff said. “I was really locked in today on that.”
Playing for 39 minutes, Bischoff said she focused on just getting to the next play and continuing to stick to the plan for her team. She finished the game with a team-high 18 points and seven rebounds.
Going against former teammates and friends, Hampton said it was just a regular MAC game to her.
Hampton had a large group of supporters at the game. She said her mother is usually at every home game but with her father being a high school coach and her little brother playing as well, it can be difficult for them to make it to games with their schedule.
“It always means a lot when family is able to make it out,” Hampton said.
Although he said the game was never about Hampton defeating her former team, Sallee said it was a great day for her.
“Personally, she is such good people that you only want good things for her, so today was a good thing for her,” Sallee said.
Focusing on the next one, Sallee said the Cardinals are in the grind of conference basketball with an emphasis on one game at a time.
Ball State will head to Central Michigan Jan. 17. The game will start at 11 a.m.