Game of runs: Ball State women's basketball defeats Kent State

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

Heading into the matchup between Ball State and Kent State, head coach Brady Sallee said the Cardinals expected a tight matchup. 

Sallee said Kent State could force the Cardinals to get to plan A, B, C and sometimes even plan D. 

“In the course of the game, it is taking full advantage of our advantages,” Sallee said. “That is the chess match you play. When you are up against another good team, it is harder to just impose your will.” 

Ball State (26-4, 15-2) women’s basketball defeated Mid-American Conference (MAC) foe Kent State (18-8, 13-4) 75-71. The 26th win this season is a new program record for the Cardinals. 

Junior Nyla Hampton said whenever the team plays at Kent State, that it is always a tough and physical battle. 

“It had that tourney and March Madness feel in general,” Hampton said. 

With both teams fighting for a No. 2 seed in the MAC, it came down to the final minutes. Sallee said it was truly a game of runs. 

In the third quarter, Ball State opened with a 12-0 run. The Cardinals expanded their lead to double-digits. 

In the same quarter, Kent State went on a 10-2 run to cut down the lead and get within one to two possessions at times. 

“If you [the team] get your feelings hurt because the other team makes a run, it can go south quick,” Sallee said. “I let my team play through it and we have won a lot of those games all year long. We know what to do.”

In the fourth quarter, Ball State was outscored by Kent State 24-17 with just 12.5 seconds left in the game. The Golden Flashes only trailed by two points, 73-71. 

wbb Akron 5

Junior Alex Richard looks up to shoot the ball against Akron Feb. 28 at Worthen Arena. Richard scored 21 points in the game. Kate Tilbury, DN

With those seconds left, Sallee called a timeout to get possession on their half-court. During the break, he focused on resetting his player's minds on the biggest parts of the game. Where is the arrow, how many timeouts Ball State have, and all the other things that are essential to close out a game, Sallee said. 

“In those moments, it is really about calming their minds so they can just go out and play,” Sallee said.

After the timeout, junior Madelyn Bischoff sank two free throws to make it a two-possession game. The Kent State effort failed, giving the Cardinals a close victory. 

Sallee said the Golden Flashes' ability to get offensive rebounds and loose balls was a major factor in Kent State continuing to fight back. 

“When you are playing teams on the road, you are going to get their best,” Sallee said. “We certainly did today.” 

In the past four games, junior Alex Richard has scored over double digits. Tonight, she continued her streak with a game-high 17 points.

“She is playing with a ton of confidence,” Sallee said. “She had some huge buckets, not easy ones either. You can see her confidence grow offensively game by game. It makes us so different when we can have the inside-outside punch.” 

Alongside Richard was Hampton. With 18 points against Eastern Michigan last Saturday, Hampton followed up that performance with an effective 16-point game against Kent State. She was 7-for-11 from the field with five rebounds, six assists, two steals and one block. Hampton said a big credit for her scoring lately is due to her being able to find the basket during transition. 

As a team, Hampton said the group can improve in having a better offensive flow and cut out on the “choppiness.” Personally, Hampton said she wants to work on doing whatever her teammates need her to do. Whether it is getting outside shots, finding teammates or taking it in herself. 

With one game left, Ball State will head to Buffalo March 9 to close out their MAC regular season at 2 p.m. 

Contact Elijah Poe via email at or on X @ElijahPoe4.


More from The Daily

This Week's Digital Issue

Loading Recent Classifieds...