3 takeaways from Ball State women's basketball's first round MAC Tournament win against Ohio

Junior Nyla Hampton dribbles the ball against Ohio March 12 at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. Hampton had two points in the first half. Andrew Berger, DN
Junior Nyla Hampton dribbles the ball against Ohio March 12 at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. Hampton had two points in the first half. Andrew Berger, DN

CLEVELAND–The Ball State Cardinals (28-4, 16-2 MAC) opened Mid-American Conference (MAC) tournament play with a 77-53 first round win against the Ohio Bobcats (11-19, 8-10 MAC) Wednesday afternoon. With the win, the Cardinals have now advanced to the second round of the conference tournament each of the last three seasons. 

Here are three takeaways from Ball State’s win.

3-point barrage early

The Bobcats came into the MAC Tournament ranked 10thin the conference in 3-point percentage (28.5 percent). Ball State came in fourth in 3-point percentage at 33 percent. In the first quarter, both teams lit it up from distance.

The first possession ended with Ohio freshman Monica Williams swishing a 3-pointer. Junior Ally Becki answered a few possessions later with a pull-up three from the right-wing. 20 seconds later, Williams came right back to put the Bobcats ahead by three. They didn’t lead the rest of the game.

Ball State’s defense strung together stops, allowing  an early 9-6 lead. An Ohio three tied it once again before junior Madelyn Bischoff answered with her own. The teams traded 3-pointers again the following two possessions, with Becki earning her second for the Cardinals. 

Each team hit four 3-pointers in the opening period. Ohio shot nine of them while Ball State shot 10. The Cardinals ended the quarter on a 10-2 run after the game was tied at 12.

Resounding edge in rebounding

When a team is shooting it from three the way Ohio was in the first quarter, not letting up offensive rebounds can be a huge factor in slowing down the opposition’s chances of getting good looks from distance. If an offensive rebound is pulled down, teammates are left on the perimeter for an open kick-out while defensive players are packed in the paint for a rebound. 

Ball State, especially in the first 20 minutes, did an impressive job of limiting Ohio to just one shot. The Cardinals pulled 17 defensive rebounds in the first half compared to the Bobcats’ four offensive rebounds. In total, the rebounding difference was 27-10 heading into the locker room, and Ohio had just two 3-point attempts in the second quarter.

It was a team effort on the boards as junior Marie Kiefer pulled down a team-high 11 rebounds. Fellow junior Alex Richard was close behind with eight rebounds while also scoring 22 points on a perfect 9-for-9 shooting. 5 other Cardinals had three or more rebounds. For the game, Ball State outrebounded Ohio 46-to-22.


Senior Annie Rauch fights to put the ball up for two against Ohio March 13 at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, Ohio. Rauch had four points for the Cardinal win. Andrew Berger, DN

When Ohio decided to drive the ball into the paint, Ball State was ready for that too. Kiefer had four of the Cardinals’ 10 total blocks for the game. 

Paint play has been hit-or-miss for the Cardinals this year. The points in the paint number was relatively close Wednesday afternoon with Ball State winning it 28-to-24. In every other paint category, the Cardinals held firm.

It wasn’t always easy

Ohio won the third quarter to shrink the Ball State lead to 14. Starting the final period, the Bobcats continued to chip away.

A 3-pointer, a trading of baskets and finally a step-through between a double team for a layup by senior Peyton Guice brought the score to 60-49 with under seven minutes remaining in the game. 

Junior Madelyn Bischoff struggled from the field Wednesday. While having 15 points, she went 3-for-13 (23 percent) from three and shot just two shots from two-point range. When the Cardinals needed offense, she still came through to give them a spark.

After the Ball State lead was cut to 11, the ensuing possession saw the shot clock winding down. Bischoff took the ball and drove it from the left wing down to the left block. Bischoff jump-stopped when Richard’s defender came over to stop her and threw a wrap-around pass to Richard for an easy layup. 

After a defensive stop on the other end, Becki nailed a deep 3-pointer to force an Ohio timeout with six minutes left in the game, putting the game out of reach. 

Bischoff went 3-for-4 in the fourth quarter and scored seven points in the period. As the Cardinals move on to the second round of MAC tournament play Friday afternoon against the winner of Kent State Vs.Northern Illinois, Bischoff’s ending to Wednesday’s game could be a sign of positive momentum for her going forward.

Tip-off for Ball State’s second round game is scheduled for Friday, March 15, 30 minutes after the conclusion of the game between the Toledo Rockets and Buffalo Bulls at 10 a.m.

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


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