The Ball State Cardinals didn’t let the Ohio Bobcats hang around at all Saturday afternoon, earning their 20th win of the season and staying undefeated in Mid-American Conference (MAC) play.
Here are three takeaways from the 97-66 win.
Pressure bothers the Bobcats
The Cardinals forced Ohio into seven turnovers and held them to just five points through the first eight minutes of Saturday’s game. Ball State’s full-court pressure has given teams trouble all season long and the Bobcats couldn’t get into any sort of offense to start the game.
After a made field goal or free throw, Ball State sets up their full-court pressure with someone guarding the player taking the ball out of bounds. They force the ball to be caught in the corners off the inbounds, where they can trap with the player guarding the out-of-bounds pass. If the opposition gets the ball across half-court, they trap once again.
There were many times throughout the game when Ohio’s offense turned it over before they could even cross the half-court line. That pressure helped Ball State open up a 28-point lead going into halftime, as Ball State had 32 of their 49 points off of Ohio turnovers.
For the game, Ball State forced 22 turnovers with 13 of them being steals.
Back on track from deep
In the Jan. 31 win against Kent State, Ball State shot 5-for-27 (18.5 percent) from 3-point land. For a team that went into that contest 14th in the nation in three-pointers made per game and 25th in 3-point percentage, it was a rather surprising performance.
Coming into Saturday’s game, it felt like they were due for a better performance from distance, and that’s exactly what happened.
Ball State shot 13-for-31 (42 percent) from 3-point land with 10 of those made threes coming in the first half.
Junior Ally Becki made two 3-pointers while junior Madelyn Bischoff went 3-for-5 from distance. The team’s percentage tailed off in the second half, but they created enough separation in the first half to pull away.
The reason for the good looks once again was the Cardinals’ ability to set up good looks off of their passing. For the game, Ball State had 24 assists on 36 made field goals.
Estel Puiggros puts on a clinic
The biggest contributor to the 3-point category Saturday was senior Estel Puiggros. She finished 4-for-9 (44 percent) from deep and tallied a career-high 18 points.
Perhaps Puiggros’ best sequence of the game came in the first quarter, setting the tone for her performance. With around four minutes left in the period, Puiggros knocked down a 3-pointer off of a steal from junior Nyla Hampton. After a stop on the defensive end on the very next possession, Becki got started on the fast break and found Puiggros wide-open for another three and the Worthen Arena crowd erupted.
Puiggros also added six assists, four rebounds and a steal, making this perhaps one of the better performances she’s had in a Cardinal uniform.
In the win against Kent State, it was senior Annie Rauch who had 15 points with seven rebounds. Today it was Puiggros. At times this year, sophomores Hana Mühl and Ana Barreto have made contributions off the bench. Having a bench that is capable of these performances can help this team as they enter the back half of MAC play.
The Cardinals travel to Northern Illinois Feb. 7 to face the Huskies. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.