Look for the shot.
Shoot with confidence.
Get underneath her feet.
Stay in the shot.
The pregame talk from associate head coach Audrey McDonald-Spencer to junior Ally Becki was a simple one – but one that resulted in a career night for the junior.
“She has been saying that to me all year, and finally they fell,” Becki said. “You just have to trust it and believe it will go in.”
Becki ended the career-high game with 36 points on 10-for-11 shooting (90 percent). She hit seven 3-pointers, snagged six rebounds, stole it twice and blocked two shots in her 33 minutes on the court. The Becki-led Cardinals (15-2, 5-0 MAC) defeated Mid-American Conference (MAC) foe Central Michigan (2-12, 1-4 MAC) 79-47.
Knowing Becki was playing well, head coach Brady Sallee said he was unaware of how good she was actually playing until he checked the stats.
“I really did not pay attention to how many she had until she had hit 31, and I looked up and was like, ‘damn,’” Sallee said.
“She had a special performance. No doubt.”
Sallee said that Becki is “that kid” for the Cardinals, and has stepped up in the role with the graduations of Thelma Dis Agustsdottir and Anna Clephane. He said whether it is scoring or passing, the team has high confidence in Becki and her abilities.
“She is always capable of going big like this,” Sallee said. “I am kind of surprised it hasn't happened yet. She is such an unselfish kid who loves to pass first, but today she was just feeling it. I am not sure too many of her shots even hit the rim. It was that pure, all day.”
With school children in attendance for the Hoops for Hunger campaign, over 3,000 packed into the Chippewas gym. Becki said it is always exciting when they bring energy. After the game, Becki could be seen signing autographs of children wearing Central Michigan gear, even signing a pair of shoes.
“I don’t want to say it was just another game because it really wasn’t,” Becki said. “It was exciting to have a game like that, I kind of needed that.”
Becki accredited her teammates for being able to recognize her hot hand and get her the ball during the game and was something that helped her put up as many points as she did.
“If the ball goes in, the ball goes in,” Becki said. “I am not looking to just get my points and get my turn, I am playing to win, if that comes with it, it comes with it.”
Although acknowledging it was her day, Becki said it would not always be her night. She said that any day it could be any of her teammate's day to step up. It just happened to be hers.
Even if the winning score was above 30 points, it was a 35-31 game heading into halftime with Ball State in the lead. The first half saw both teams combine for 25 total turnovers, with Ball State committing 10 of them. Sallee said that fumbled passes and trying to do a little bit too much was a factor.
“It was one of those games where it was a little bit ragged, but we tightened things up there in the second half,” Sallee said.
Becki said with the early game that it was hard finding a groove at the start.
Junior Nyla Hampton finished with four points, just one shy of reaching the 1,000-point mark on her career. Hampton also dished out 10 assists. Junior Alex Richard finished as the second-highest scorer for Ball State with 12 points and seven rebounds.
With Toledo coming to Muncie Jan. 21, Sallee said it should be a “whale of a game” with two teams who have done a lot of winning over the years. Becki echoed her coach, expecting a dogfight on Sunday.
“We certainly need the students, the campus community and the Muncie community to show up and come support this team,” Sallee said.
With the rivals facing off, Sallee said it is a good rivalry with a lot of mutual respect between the two.
“It should be a game that showcases this league and how good it is,” Sallee said.
The Cardinals will enter the contest 5-0 for the first time in the MAC under Sallee, and one of four teams in the nation on a nine-game winning streak.
The game against the Rockets (11-4, 4-0 MAC) will start at 6 p.m. in Worthen Arena, it will also be nationally televised on CBS Sports Network.