Written By: Noah Reed | @NoahReed_24
Play-by-Play Voice of Ball State Women’s Basketball on Sports Link Radio
Member of Ball State Sports Link
Just a few short days after dropping a heart breaker to the hands of the Ohio Bobcats, the Ball State women’s basketball team must move past the loss and forward to this Wednesday. The Cardinals welcome the Akron Zips to Worthen Arena for some midweek MACtion.
Ball State (14-5, 6-2 MAC) fell by one point to the MAC leader, Ohio, for only its second loss in nearly two months. Just like one would expect between the conference’s two best teams, it was a back and forth battle the entire 40 minutes. The game featured 11 ties and 11 lead changes.
The Cardinals held a nine-point advantage with 3:09 remaining after a Jill Morrison three-pointer, but Ohio went on a 8-0 run in the next 1:20 to pull within one point. With four seconds remaining, the Bobcats trailed by two, inbounding the basketball. Lexie Baldwin scored a layup on the right block while being fouled. Baldwin sunk the free throw, and a 25-foot Morrison jumper fell off the back of the rim for a 68-67 final, in favor of the Bobcats.
“I just feel so bad for our girls,” assistant coach Ryan Patterson said in a post game interview. “They played extremely hard and a finish like that is frustrating.”
Enough dwelling on that game, lets move on to the next one. Akron, who only trails Ohio in the MAC East, comes to town for which should be another great battle in Muncie.
Akron (11-9, 5-4 MAC) is in the midst of playing its best basketball of the season, winning 4 of its last 6 contests, including two on the road.
Storylines to follow on Wednesday
- Anita Brown
We’ve witnessed the play of Nathalie Fontaine first hand this year for Ball State, but Akron’s Anita Brown has been equally impressive thus far. The senior guard has done it all for the Zips this year.
Through 20 games played, Brown is averaging a team high 21.9 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. The 21.9ppg is also tops in the Mid American Conference. As if those numbers aren’t impressive enough already, Brown’s game has exploded as of late.
In the past six contests, the MAC’s leading scorer has scored 20+ points on five of those occasions. Brown has upped her numbers to 24 points and eight rebounds as an average over the past six games.
Standing at just 5’8”, Brown hasn’t had a problem mixing it up the bigs down low. She has four games with double figure rebounds, all of which have resulted in a double-double for the Warren, Ohio native.
- Who wins the battle on the glass?
Wednesday’s matchup features two of the best rebounding teams in the MAC. Ball State leads the conference in rebounding margin, snagging nearly eight more rebounds per game than their opponent. Akron ranks fourth in the same category, with a plus two margin.
As a team, Akron averages over 43 rebounds per game. That number ranks them inside the top 25 in the country. Earlier this season at Winthrop, the Zips corralled 62 rebounds in one game. The Cardinals are not far behind, grabbing over 41 rebounds each contest.
Ball State has only lost the rebounding margin twice this season, in 19 tries. One of those includes the first game of the season back in mid November at Charlotte.
- Morrison’s hot streak
After scoring in double figures the first five games of the season, Jill Morrison hit a rough patch where she was struggling to shoot the ball and score in general.
That stretch has long been passed.
Over the last five contests, Morrison has been playing her best basketball of the season. The Winchester native has scored 13+ points in each of those, including a season-high 21 points at home against Eastern Michigan two weeks ago.
In these five games, Morrison’s numbers have sky rocketed above her season averages. She is scoring over 16 per game, which is up from her season average of about 12. Morrison is shooting over 36% from behind the arc, which is good for top 10 in the MAC, but the percentage is even better as of late. She is 21-for-47 since January, which is good for a clip of nearly 45%
Wednesday’s coverage can be heard on 91.3 WCRD Sports Link Radio with myself and Cory Stace on the call. Fox Sports Muncie (102.9 FM/1340 AM) with have Tyler Bradfield and Connor Onion on the call. ESPN3 will also have the game covered nationally.