By Cory Stace | @corystace
Play by Play for Ball State Women’s Basketball on WCRD
Member of Ball State Sports Link
The Ball State Women’s Basketball team enters this weekend riding a five-game winning streak.
Up next is the Ohio Bobcats at home this weekend. The matchup marks the first rematch with a Mid-American Conference opponent this season for the Cardinals.
On January 6th, Ball State took the trip to Athens, Ohio to take on the Bobcats. Both teams at the time were in the midst of respective winning streaks, but both were looking to cement themselves atop the Mid-American Conference.
That day, Ohio dominated the Cardinals in a 73-48 statement victory, which solidified its spot at the top of the MAC.
Ohio has not fallen from the top, producing six straight wins since meeting the Cardinals.
Coming into this weekend, Ohio is riding an 11-game winning streak, has a 16-3 non-conference record and has an undefeated 8-0 Mid-American Conference record.
Ball State, on the other hand, has rattled off five straight wins after losing to Ohio, two of those wins coming against two of the best teams in the MAC West Division. Both of those wins for the Cardinals came in dominating fashion by 20+ points.
Both teams may be hitting their greatest strides of the year, which only sets the stage bigger as they go head-to-head Saturday in Worthen Arena.
Even in front of the big stage this weekend, the Cardinals should feel comfortable playing in front of the Worthen Arena fans after improving to 9-0 at home with a win vs. Eastern Michigan last week.
The Cardinals also come into this weekend playing some of their best basketball defensively after holding Eastern and Western Michigan to a combined 33% from the field in their last two contests.
The Cardinals had four players score in double digits last Saturday at Western Michigan. The junior center out of Muskego, Wisconsin, Renee Bennett, had the best performance of her career with a career high 21 points and career high 10 rebounds, marking her first career double-double.
Bennett will be an important factor for the Cardinals heading into this weekend’s matchup vs. Ohio because the Bobcats’ tallest player stands at 6-foot-2 compared to Bennett who is three inches taller at 6-foot-5.
Also in double digits for the Cardinals was Nathalie Fontaine, who finished with 15 points.
Fontaine is averaging 21.1 points per game this season through 18 games, which ranks second in the Mid-American Conference to Akron’s guard, Anita Brown.
Fontaine is also on pace to place herself in Ball State’s record books by the end of the year for first in all-time career scoring.
Ball State played 31 games last season, and if they play 31 games this season, Fontaine would only need to average 16 points per game for the remaining 13 games to get the record, which is five points less from her normal season average.
Storylines for Saturday’s Game vs. Ohio:
- Last time the Cardinals faced the Bobcats, Ball State tied a season-high 26 turnovers as a team.
- Look for a tougher brand of basketball from the Cardinals because according to head coach Brady Sallee, the team lacked toughness in the last contest with Ohio. The team will look to get more 50/50 balls this time around.
- Nathalie Fontaine had 15 points with 14 rebounds last game vs. Ohio, but she was the only Cardinal to get into double digits.
- Ball State went 3-15 from the 3pt line on Jan. 6, and that was one reason the Cardinals could not produce offense early in the game letting Ohio jump on the Cardinals.
- The Cardinals have a huge size advantage over Ohio, and they utilized it by winning the rebounding margin by +12 last time they played. Although, the rebounding margin did not play a big factor with the Cardinals turning the ball over 15 more times than the Bobcats.
- Ohio had four players in double figures the last time these two teams met, including Lexie Baldwin, Kiyanna Black, Quiera Lampkins and Yamonie Jenkins.
- Quiera Lampkins played the most efficient game for the Bobcats vs. Ball State tallying 15 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assists on 7-11 shooting from the field.
- Kiyanna Black ranks 3rd in the Mid-American Conference in scoring average behind only Anita Brown (Akron) and Nathalie Fontaine (Ball State).
- Ohio, as a team, has taken 585 threes this season, which is most in the Mid-American Conference by well over 100 shots.
- Ohio took 44 three-pointers vs. the Cardinals in Athens, Ohio.
- On January 6, Shelby Merder was starting for Renee Bennett who came off the bench as she was still recovering from an ankle injury, but since Bennett has been back starting, she has averaged 13.75 points with 6.5 rebounds through 4 games.
Saturday’s game is scheduled to start at 4:00pm EST in Worthen Arena and will be broadcast in three locations:
- ESPN3 with Joel Godett and Amber Stocks Whitford
- Ball State Radio Network, Fox Sports Muncie (102.9 FM & 1340 AM) with Tyler Bradfield and Scot Bunnell
- Ball State Sports Link Radio onWCRD (91.3 FM) with myself, Noah Reed and Mick Tidrow on the call.