3 takeaways from Ball State women’s basketball’s senior day win over Eastern Michigan

Junior Nyla Hampton steals the ball against Eastern Michigan March 1 at Worthen Arena. The Cardinals were up 30-20 at half-time. Kate Tilbury, DN
Junior Nyla Hampton steals the ball against Eastern Michigan March 1 at Worthen Arena. The Cardinals were up 30-20 at half-time. Kate Tilbury, DN

The Ball State Cardinals (25-4, 14-2 MAC) honored three seniors Saturday in their contest against the Eastern Michigan Eagles (6-21, 2-14 MAC). Ball State is sending seniors Estel Puiggros, Sydney Shafer and Annie Rauch off with a 75-47 win.

Here are three takeaways from the win. 

The good, bad and ugly of the first half

For fans who came out for senior day, the first half may not have been the most pleasing to them visually. In statistics where the Cardinals usually dominate, they struggled. In categories that have been a weakness this year, they were efficient.

For the Cardinals, a category they excelled in was the paint. They scored 18 of their 30 first-half points in the painted area, four more than the Eagles. Senior Annie Rauch and junior Alex Richard combined for 13 points in the first half. 

On average, opponents are averaging more rebounds per game than Ball State. Saturday, the Cardinals held the rebounding edge 19-14.

The bad came from six different Cardinals being unable to hit a 3-pointer. Junior Ally Becki hit a step-back with 3:12 left in the 2nd quarter which was the first three of the game for either team. 

After an impressive start to the season, junior Madelyn Bischoff has struggled from distance for Ball State. In non-conference play, she shot 46 percent from distance. In MAC play, she’s down to 35 percent. 

While 35 percent is still solid, after Saturday’s game, Bischoff has now made two 3-pointers in her last 14 attempts. Bischoff knocked down a right-wing three in the fourth quarter. Seeing the ball go through the hoop could get her back on track.

The bad came from their assist-to-turnover ratio. Coming into the contest, around 60 percent of Ball State’s field goals came from assists. Through the first half, the Cardinals had just three assists on 12 field goals, including eight turnovers. Ball State led 30-20 going into halftime.

Hampton hoops

On any given night, junior Nyla Hampton could be a distributor, a scorer or a defensive leader. Saturday, all of her abilities were on display. 

Hampton accumulated a game-high 18 points. While she didn’t hit a 3-pointer, she also went 7-for-11 (63 percent) from the free throw line. Hampton wreaked havoc in the full-court Ball State pressure as well. She had six steals, contributing to 24 Eastern Michigan turnovers. Hampton found her teammates for good looks as well. She also earned four assists.

The ability Hampton has to be able to take the ball from the top of the key to the rim in a 1-on-1 situation is dangerous. A few times, it resulted in and-one opportunities for Hampton.

Hampton also took care of the ball, only having one turnover. In the second half, Ball State committed just three turnovers, flipping the script from the first 20 minutes. 

Rauch reaches history

With Saturday being senior day, Rauch was already going to be honored for her efforts for the Ball State program. Coming into the game, she was 15 points away from eclipsing 1,000 for her career.

With 1:24 left in the third quarter, it seemed as though Rauch was well on her way. She already had 14 points with an entire quarter to go. The milestone wasn’t going to be easy to achieve.

After being subbed out late in the third, Rauch was subbed back into the game with 4:23 left in the fourth quarter. A minute later, she got a dish from Hampton for an open layup, but missed. Later in the possession, she got another chance but had her shot blocked.

A few minutes later, Hampton went to the free throw line. After she missed her second free throw, Rauch grabbed the rebound and got fouled. With the opportunity to achieve the mark at the line, she missed both shots. 

On the second miss, Becki grabbed the rebound and found Rauch who once again earned a trip to the line. After missing the first, she put the second free throw in to give her 1,000. Rauch would add two more later in the quarter to finish with 17 for the game. 

Other seniors like Estel Puiggros and Syndey Shafer also got in the scoring column to finish the game, sending the Worthen Arena crowd into a standing ovation.

Ball State has two more games before the MAC tournament. A road game with Kent State is up first with tip-off scheduled for Wednesday at 5 p.m.

Contact Caleb Zuver via email at cmzuver@bsu.edu or on X @zuves35.


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