Cards host Central Michigan on Think Pink Day

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.

Moving on…

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.

Moving on…

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

Moving on…

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

-Pozz

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Buffalo leads Ball State 30-15 at halftime

It would be reasonable to think Ball State would come out aggressive and hungry against Buffalo, especially on their home floor. The momentum was on the home team’s side while the visitors have lost three in a row and nine of the last 10 games. But the Cardinals were thoroughly outplayed in every possible manner in the first half.

The Bulls physically took it to the Cardinals. Bulls’ leading scorer Brittany Hedderson recorded 10 first half points, while Nytor Longar also turned in a 10-point first half. The Bulls outscored the Cardinals 18-to-2 in the paint. The Cardinals’ defense struggled to contain Longar, who at 6-foot-2, is the tallest player on the Bulls roster. Suzanne Grossnickle, who is also listed as 6-foot-2, was given the responsibility of covering Longar, but the senior co-captain didn’t fair well.

The Cardinals’ offense went cold as well, going 9:32 without scoring a field goal. During that span, the Bulls put together a 14-0 run, taking control of the first half.

More to come…

***

Good day from Worthen Arena…

Ball State women’s basketball head coach Kelly Packard has partnered up with the Barefoot Coaching Program for Samaritan’s Feet, and will be coaching shoeless when her team hosts Mid-American Conference rival Buffalo this afternoon.

“I am excited to bring Samaritan’s Feet, particularly, the Barefoot Coaching Movement, to Ball State University,” Packard said in a press release. The Barefoot Coaching platform assists Samaritan’s Feet in raising funds in order to take shoes directly to underprivileged children. The shoes meet a physical need, and the personal touch of the delivery and distribution of the shoes creates hope.”

Ball State (8-14, 3-6) snapped its five-game losing skid with a 75-56 triumph at Kent State on Wednesday night. It was just the second road win of the season for the Cardinals, with their other victory away from Worthen Arena coming via a 55-50 win at Evansville back on Nov. 29, 2011. The win over the Golden Flashes also gave Ball State its first conference road victory of the season. Three players reached double-figures in scoring for Ball State, including a game-high 16-point outing from junior guard Shanee’ Jackson. Senior co-captain forward Suzanne Grossnickle also had a stellar performance, earning a double-double with 13 points and 11 boards. Grossnickle was a perfect 6-for-6 from the field. Sophomore guard Brandy Woody also had a noteworthy game, finishing with 13 points.

Buffalo has struggled of late. The Bulls come to Muncie on the heels of a 102-92 loss at Western Michigan on Thursday night. Their lone conference victory came over Northern Illinois on Jan. 22 by a score of 65-46. Senior guard Brittany Hedderson leads the Bulls offensively, averaging over 20 points per contest.

On paper, it’ll be tough for Buffalo to pull out a rare road win, especially at Worthen Arena, where Ball State is at its best.