BY NOAH REED | Radio Voice of Ball State Women’s Basketball on WCRD 91.3 FM
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Ball State is coming off arguably its most convincing win of the season. The Cardinals jumped all over Eastern Michigan 17-4 in the opening four minutes of the game and never looked back, winning 78-49 Wednesday.
Head Coach Brady Sallee was pleased with his team’s approach.
We practiced really well this week and we came out ready to play. Our defense [Wednesday] reminded me of the first three conference games we played.
-Brady Sallee following BSU’s 78-49 win over EMU Jan. 18
Four of Ball State’s five starters scored in double figures, led by senior Renee Bennett‘s 19 points. The 6-foot-5enter continued her efficiency, shooting 8-for-13 from the field and collecting seven rebounds, all in just 21 minutes of action.
Other double figure scorers included Jill Morrison (17), Moriah Monaco (16), and Calyn Hosea (12). Hosea reached double figures for the second consecutive game, after tallying a season-high 13 last Saturday against Akron. Morrison and Monaco combined for seven three-pointers.
“When Jill and I are consistently hitting shots like that, there’s no telling how good we can be,” Monaco said. “It leaves Renee open down low, and I don’t know how you can stop an offense like that.”
What to Watch for Saturday:
1. Who wins on the glass?
Bowling Green has struggled to begin MAC play, winning just once in six tries. However, one thing they do better than most teams in the country is rebound the basketball. The Falcons are ranked in the Top 25 in the nation, grabbing more than 43 rebounds per game. That trails only Buffalo in conference play.
Bowling Green has had 45-or-more rebounds in half of its games this season. The Falcons have corralled 50-plus rebounds four times, including a season-high 55 against Northern Illinois in conference play.
Ball State, meanwhile, is not far behind the Falcons. The Cardinals collect nearly 41 rebounds per game, just a couple shy of Bowling Green.
Ball State, though, has one of the conference’s best rebounding defenses. Allowing just 36 boards per night, the Cardinals have a nearly +5 rebounding margin. The mark is just short of Buffalo for the best in the MAC.
2. Bennett nearing a career milestone
Senior Renee Bennett has burst onto the scene for Ball State in her final season as a Cardinal.
Bennett has scored double figures in every game except two this season, one of those being a nine-point performance against Urbana when Ball State won by 44 and Bennett played just 16 minutes.
After a 19-point performance Wednesday, Bennett is just 21 points shy of reaching 1,000 career points. That would make her the second Cardinals this season to reach the milestone. Senior Jill Morrison accomplished the feat earlier this year when she scored 15 against Urbana at home.
Whether Bennett reaches the milestone on Saturday or later in the season, she will become the 26th member of the 1,000 point club and the fifth to come under the five-year direction of Sallee. Others to reach the mark under Sallee include Shelbie Justice, Brandy Woody, and Ball State’s all-time leading scorer, Nathalie Fontaine.
The 21 points isn’t out of Bennett’s reach. She has scored at least 21 points in four games this season, including back-to-back career-high 28-point performances in the non-conference slate.
3. Ball State dominated series as of late
Bowling Green hasn’t defeated Ball State in three years. The last time the Falcons were victorious against the Cardinals came Jan. 15, 2014, with 72-61 result in Muncie.
The most notable of games in recent history was three seasons ago in the MAC Tournament. Bowling Green entered the game as the No. 1 seed in the conference and ranked in the Top 25 in the nation. Ball State won the game in convincing fashion, 73-55, advancing to the MAC Championship game.