BY MICK TIDROW | Analyst for the Ball State Radio Network
- You can watch the game on ESPN3 at 7:00 p.m.
- Listen to the game with Ball State Radio Network with Tyler Bradfield and Mick Tidrow
- Listen to the game on SL Radio on 91.3 WCRD with Noah Reed, Cory Stace and John Gordon
- Follow @bsusportslink on social media for gameday coverage and access
Identity can be hard to find from teams in college, but the Ball State women’s basketball team has made its clear: toughness.
After a shoulder injury to senior guard Jill Morrison two weeks ago during the Thanksgiving trip to Savannah, the team found scoring from the bench and a versatile Destiny Washington jumped into the starting role.
When Morrison missed three games, Washington averaged nearly 12 points per game, starting in two of the games and dropping a career-high 18 points vs. Chicago State.
The redshirt sophomore came off the bench Sunday at Butler due to the return of Morrison. Morrison logged 28 minutes of action, while Washington played 21 minutes and made the most of them. Washington went 8-for-10 from the field and finished with 17 points — doing most of her damage in the second half.
Needless to say, there is no shortage of offense on the team with the Purdue Boilermakers coming to town Thursday night. Ball State head coach Brady Sallee has never beaten Purdue in four tries, all coming in the last four years with the Cardinals.
Thursday’s contest against Purdue will mark the 24th time in program history the two schools have met with Purdue leading the all-time series, 18-5. The last time the Cardinals defeated the Boilermakers was Dec. 13, 1979 by a score of 63-53 in Muncie. Purdue has won the last 15 matches overall.
Impact of Carmen Grande:
Passing has been no problem for the sophomore facilitator from Madrid, Spain this season.
Ranking second in the nation with 8.7 assists per game (61 total), Carmen Grande trails only Curtyce Knox of Texas A&M for the nation’s lead. She has a career-high 13 assists in two games this season, which is tied for the record inside Worthen Arena.
At will, Grande makes her teammates better in the open floor because she sees the lanes so well. Against a Big Ten team in Purdue, it will be as important as ever for Grande to find the lanes and use the extra pass.
Not to mention, Grande also hit a career-high three, 3-pointers vs. Butler on her way to 15 points, seven assists and eight steals.
Ashley Morissette’s Ability To Shoot:
There have been improvements all across the board during the career of Purdue senior guard Ashley Morrissette.
This year she is averaging nearly 16 points a game and shooting the ball at 40 percent, including 35 percent from deep. The senior has a deadly crossover dribble and leads the team with 43 assists.
It has not only been her offense carrying the team, but her ability to lead the charge as a whole.
Morrissette has been highly touted ever since high school. She entered college ranked No. 23 at her position by ESPN.com.
She has a tricky task in slowing down the passing of Grande, but she has proven on the defensive end to be stout.
Both teams step on the court Thursday with shooting percentages above 42 percent. Ball State is 10th in the country, standing at 48.6 percent from the field.
Five players are averaging at least eight points per game, while four of those players are in double digits each night. All five are shooting better than 40 percent. Veteran leadership combined with improvements during the offseason has the Cardinals’ offense off to a hot start.
However, it will not be easy to score against Purdue’s defense. Opponents are averaging just 57 points a game and shooting a meager 37 percent, well below Ball State’s season averages of 74 and 49, respectively.
To match Ball State’s scoring output, Purdue sends out a lineup that shoots the three ball well at 34 percent.
Each team has scorers who can take over a game at any moment. The Cardinals have a starting lineup loaded with experience, while Purdue has a mixed lineup of youth and veterans.
Both teams have shown the ability to go on a run at any point in the game and dominate the rest of the way, as Ball State did in Hinkle Fieldhouse to Butler Sunday.
But the Boilermakers are on a three-game winning streak coming into Muncie. The last time they accomplished the feat was a year ago, when they went on to win nine straight.