On Saturday afternoon, Ball State traveled to take on the Akron Zips. The Cardinals’ second Mid-American Conference (MAC) matchup of the season ended with the red and black taking the 71-64 win.
Here are three takeaways from the game.
Defense, defense, and more defense
The contest started with limited offense as the first bucket was not recorded until the 5:25 minute mark. During that time, turnovers and missed shots plagued both teams. Yet while there were mistakes, there was great defense.
During the rest of the first half, Ball State (12-2) never looked satisfied on that side of the ball. At halftime, the Cardinals had seven steals and five blocks. Junior Nyla Hampton led the Cardinals in the opening half with five steals.
For the Zips (5-7), their defense was solid as well as they held the Cardinals to 11-for-28 first-half shooting. The rest of the game was very similar as blocks and steals were common in the second half and overtime.
Yet it was one-sided as Ball State finished the win with 13 steals and seven blocks. The Zips ended with only three steals and one block.
Finding ways to score on offense
As a team that has been successful from the field during the season, the Cardinals seemed to have issues on offense. They finished the game going 24-for-62 (38.7 percent) from the field. From three-point range, the red and black finished 8-for-25 (32 percent).
However, the Zips had the same struggles as they went 24-for-58 (41.4 percent) and 7-for-21 (33.3 percent) from deep. Due to the poor performances from the perimeter, both contestants had to find ways to save possessions. For Ball State, senior Annie Rauch was a huge contributor as she recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Her performance allowed the Cardinals to have second chances and keep Akron away from the basketball.
Performing well in big moments
With 53 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, junior Madelyne Bischoff hit a corner three to tie the game. Following that, the Zips were able to take the lead once again, this time leading by two. That is when junior Ally Becki was fouled on a three-point attempt, in which she sank two free throws that helped send the game to overtime.
During the extra period, both competitors traded baskets until Ball State led 67-64. With less than 20 seconds remaining, the Cardinals had possession and a chance to seal the game. That is when Becki hit a step-back jump shot to give the Cardinals their sixth straight win.
The Cardinals will return to Muncie to face Buffalo (7-5) on Wednesday, Jan. 10. The game is set to start at 6:30 p.m.
Contact Zach Carter with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on X@ZachCarter85.