With only four games remaining in an up-and-down 2011-12 season, Ball State coach Kelly Packard remains confident in her team to finish strong, especially at Worthen Arena.
“We need to seize the opportunity to finish MAC play with three of our last four games in Worthen Arena,” Packard said, according to ballstatesports.com. “The resolve to compete with the toughness to see another victory remains.”
Ball State will host Western Divisional rival Central Michigan in a 2 p.m. tipoff on Think Pink Day, as it looks to gain ground in the Mid-American Conference standings for the conference tournament in March.
Unfortunately for the Cardinals (8-17, 3-9), their play has largely been poor over their last nine games. They snapped a five-game winless streak with a 75-56 victory at Kent State on Feb. 1, but followed it up by dropping three straight.
Their latest defeat came at the hands of Western Divisional rival Northern Illinois on Thursday. The Cardinals never had a lead, and the Huskies made them pay by managing 20 points off of turnovers to the Cardinals’ 13. The free-throw line also plagued the visiting team. The Huskies sent their opponent to the line 22 times, but the Cardinals converted just 14 (63.6 percent).
Despite the unfavorable outcome, Packard remained appreciative of her team’s effort and will to compete.
“I’m still proud of the way this team is battling,” Packard said, following the Northern Illinois game. “I felt like we battled. I felt like we had multiple people that got on the floor after loose balls. I just think we need to continually shoot the ball at practice.”
The Cardinals had two days to shoot the ball around, as they welcome the Chippewas (13-13, 5-7) to Worthen Arena, looking to even the season series after losing 84-66 on Jan. 14 in Mt. Pleasant, Mich. On the other hand, the Chippewas are looking for their first win in Muncie in over a decade. The Chippewas last defeated the Cardinals in Worthen on Feb. 23, 1998 by a score of 99-75.
Protecting the ball and guarding the perimeter will be key for Ball State. Central Michigan is second in the conference with just under 11 steals per game. In addition, Central Michigan is the most lethal team in the conference from beyond the arc, averaging just under seven long-range jumpers per game.
Looking back…the Cardinals defeated the Chippewas in Worthen Arena last season on Jan. 15, 2011 by a score of 86-77. Three Cardinals reached double figures in points, including senior guard Ty’Ronda Benning and fellow senior Emily Maggert, who tallied a team-high 22 points a piece. Freshman forward Jazmin Hitchens recorded a career-high 20 points against the Chippewas.
Think Pink Day…Today’s game will bring awareness and education in regards to breast cancer and breast cancer survivors. The Cardinals will be wearing Play4Kay warm-up shirts, giving pledge cards away for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund and pink tote bags.
Taking a look at both teams…
Ball State Central Michigan
Scoring Offense 57.7 71.3
Scoring Defense 65.0 70.7
Scoring Margin -7.2 +0.6
Free Throw Pct 67.6 63.1
Field Goal Pct 36.5 38.3
Field Goal Pct Defense 42.7 39.3
3-Point FG Pct 28.3 30.8
3-Point FG Pct Defense 31.3 31.2
3-Point FG Made per Game 5.1 6.3
Rebounding Offense 36.7 43.4
Rebounding Defense 37.7 43.8
Rebounding Margin -1.0 -0.4
Blocked Shots 3.2 4.0
Assists per Game 13.2 12.4
Steals per Game 9.3 11.6
Turnover Margin -1.4 +1.6
Assist/Turnover Ratio 0.6 0.7
It would be nice to see senior guard Megan Craft get some playing time. Craft, who’s specialty is shooting the three, has recorded a team-low 51 minutes this season. Last season, Craft led the Cardinals in 3-point field goal percentage (54.8 percent). As poorly as this team has played of late, would it hurt anything to see Craft finish her career on a positive note, rather than just ride the bench?
That’s all for now…check back for updates