MUNCIE, Ind. -- Ball State Women’s Basketball started their regular season with a loss on the road at Tennessee Tech. Their second game was their first one at home, and they would make sure to not make the same mistake twice.
It was the sixth annual Women’s Basketball Field Trip Day. Six different elementary schools from around the area packed into Worthen Arena for the 11 a.m. tip-off. The energy of the 4,067 screaming fans played a crucial part in the 105-51 win over Indiana University East. Head Coach Brady Sallee explained how important filling seats in the stadium is for the program.
“Well one thing I told them is we knew there would be a big crowd, so we wanted to come out and play well. We wanted to give them a reason to go home and say ‘hey mom, dad, can we go to the game Thursday?’” Sallee said. “It was exciting playing in front of that. Playing at home has got to be important to us.”
The crowd’s energy acted as a sixth player on the court according to Senior Anna Clephane. Their intensity and volume were contagious for the Cardinals on the court. Clephane explained the feeling of playing in that environment.
“It’s really fun. It’s super exhilarating to have the support there. After the game, we were able to get up into the stands and the kids would yell, ‘I love you. I want to be you. Can I have your autograph?’ It’s really cool to see,” Clephane said.
While Ball State maintained a massive lead throughout the game, staying ahead for a total of 39 minutes and 38 seconds, they never took their foot off the gas until the final buzzer sounded. Sallee believes their success came from the way the team has bought into the system.
“I think for me, it’s really simple. It’s buy-in. If they’ll buy into playing this way, we can continue the greatness and the aggressiveness, the toughness. We can really build something special that way,” Sallee said.
The Cardinals made it very difficult for the Red wolves to move the ball past half-court. Their full-court press was suffocating from the start. They were able to force 31 turnovers and score 41 points off of them. They were tough on the glass adding 51 rebounds with 28 of them being offensive. They were also able to score 24 of their points on second chances.
“I want to play this way more. You know when you get into foul trouble like we did at Tennessee Tech, we can’t press,” Sallee said. “We’re a good offensive team, but when we turn teams over and go get free ones, we’re a great offensive team.
The team will be back on the court this Thursday at 6:30 p.m. when the Bulldogs of Butler University come to Muncie.
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