“I did not expect that:” Ball State women’s basketball loses to Kent State in MAC Tournament semifinals

Head coach Brady Sallee and assistant coach Moriah Monaco talk about their plans after timeout against Kent State March 15 at Rocket Mortgage Feildhouse in Cleveland, Ohio. Andrew Berger, DN
Head coach Brady Sallee and assistant coach Moriah Monaco talk about their plans after timeout against Kent State March 15 at Rocket Mortgage Feildhouse in Cleveland, Ohio. Andrew Berger, DN

CLEVELAND – Ten minutes into the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Tournament, Ball State women’s basketball had only scored five points. 

Kent State held a commanding 14-5 lead after the first quarter, a lead Ball State could not cut into for the rest of the game. As the final buzzer rang, Kent State (20-10) defeated Ball State (28-5) 65-50.

“It is March basketball,” head coach Brady Sallee said. “It is two teams doing everything they can to get to the next day. Whether it is an overtime win or a clunker we played, crazy things happen.

“I did not expect that, that is for sure.”

Sallee said the offense was chunky, never got any runs and felt like the Cardinals had to go the extra step to score. 

“They [Kent State] made life tough on us today,” Sallee said. “If I say anything other than that, I would not being giving them enough credit. For them to be able to do that to us, it was impressive.” 


Junior Madelynn Bischoff drives against Kent State March 13 at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, Ohio. Bischoff had ten points in the game. Andrew Berger, DN

In every game where Ball State has won the points in the paint category, the Cardinals have won. Today, they lost that category 44-16. Kent State also outrebounded Ball State 50-23. The Golden Flashes had 17 offensive rebounds and 21 second-chance points. 

The Cardinals ended up shooting 30 3-pointers today and only got up 28 field goals inside the arch. Sallee said the Golden Flashes made Ball State one-dimensional and live and die with the 3-pointer. 

The tougher and the better team today won, Sallee said, that being Kent State. 

With the goal of winning a MAC Championship highlighted since day one, junior Nyla Hampton said her emotions were about where people would expect after dropping to the Golden Flashes in the semifinals. 

Junior Nyla Hampton and junior Ally Becki walk from the court after losing against Kent State March 15 at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, Ohio. With this loss, Ball State has been knocked from the Mid-american tournament. Andrew Berger, DN

Hampton knocked out Ball State last year with Bowling Green. Now a Cardinal, Hampton said her time in Cleveland with the team has been enjoyable to play, despite the loss. 

After beating the University of Georgia and the University of Pittsburgh, Ball State made an effort to reach out and get Power 5 wins under their belt for the NCAA selection committee. Regardless of Power 5 wins and a 28-win regular season, Sallee is unsure the Cardinals will be in the NCAA Tournament due to the NET ranking system. 

“It is very slanted to the big boys,” Sallee said. “That is who they [the NCAA] want in the tournament. We all understand that, we knew the rules going in. I am not crying, this is not spilled milk, this is a bigger picture thing. It is the lay of the land, right, wrong or indifferent.

“The players suffer. You got a 28-win team sitting in there right now and on Sunday they are going to watch a team who couldn’t even compete in their own league [make it] because they are in a league.”

With all being said, Ball State still does have a chance for an at-large bid and will have the opportunity to play in the WNIT. 

“[It’s] next game mentality,” junior Marie Kiefer said. “Of course, we did not want this outcome [in the MAC] but it is just to the next game, the season is not exactly over yet.” 


Ball State women's basketball walks to the locker after their loss to Kent State March 15 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cardinals lost in the semi-final round of the Mid-American Conference tournament. Mya Cataline, DN

Falling short in the semifinals for the second year in a row, Sallee said part of the toughness in this loss is simply the amount of times the Cardinals have fallen short. 

Sallee has seen Toledo win it, Buffalo win it, Central Michigan win it and Ohio win it. Through it all, Ball State has seen it all. The one constant in all of it is Ball State. Regardless, Sallee said the Cardinals will keep on showing up to “the party.” 

“We do not drop off,” Sallee said. “We are going to be back again.

“We will keep showing up and everyone is going to keep on shaking their head when they see me coming around the corner, but I will be there.”

Contact Elijah Poe via email at elijah.poe@bsu.edu or on X @ElijahPoe4.


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