BY MICK TIDROW | Analyst for the Ball State Radio Network
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Offense, and a lot of it, is ready to burst onto the floor in Akron, Ohio when Ball State takes on the Zips Wednesday night in James A. Rhodes Arena.
Coming off of a tough 101-96 loss at home vs. Northern Illinois, Ball State (7-2 MAC) looks to rebound against the Zips (2-6) . The first time these two teams met up, it was the Cardinals at home earning the 80-70 victory. But in three short games, things have turned around on the Akron side.
The Zips are 2-1 in their last three, including a 29 point throttling of the Mid-American Conference’s top team in Northern Illinois (9-1).
This game signals the first time the Cardinals have matched up against the same MAC team for the second time this season.
Wednesday ends a three game home stand for the Zips, their longest of the season.
What to Watch for Saturday:
- Transition Defense
Akron’s ability to create shots in transition and space causes issues for opposing teams, and Northern Illinois found out first hand.
The Hannah Plybon (5-12) led three point attack shot 14-32 from downtown to shoot 44 percent from deep. Many of the three’s came off defensive rebounds, spreading out the Huskies defense.
Moriah Monaco (16 PPG) and Jill Morrison (10 PPG) have done this all season long, catching passes and drilling three pointers. It is all set up by the ability of both teams to grab the defensive rebounds.
Renee Bennett, averaging a team high 17 points per game, has been a force on the boards, giving the Cardinals quick chances to score on the other end. Akron scores quickly off of opponents makes, adding to the difficulty on the defensive side for the opposition.
2. Battle of the boards: Who wins?
Head Coach Brady Sallee stresses the importance of rebounds each game, but the effectiveness was on display first hand against Buffalo a week ago.
The Bulls were eighth in the nation with 19 offensive rebounds per game entering the contest. The Cardinals held Buffalo to just 14, changing the complexion of the game. Ball State walked away victorious in the rebounding department against Northern Illinois 40 to 39, but the difference was the points off rebounds and threes (13-25) the Huskies were able to convert on.
Bennett has the height advantage against the Zips, and had a strong showing the first go round with 15 points in just 19 minutes in Munice.
The Cardinals are second in the MAC in rebounding margin per game, while Akron is near the bottom at ninth.
3. Ball Facilitation
Carmen Grande has excelled in her second season as the starting point guard for Ball State. The sophomore from Madrid, Spain is third in the nation in assists at 7.7 per game, trailing just Curtyce Knox of Texas A&M and Drake’s Caitlin Ingle. Grande has posted gaudy assist numbers this year, including 14 against Central Michigan on the road.
As a team, Ball State is first in the MAC with nearly 19 dishes per game. Akron has had success as well, standing at sixth in the conference. Shaunay Edmonds leads the way for the Zips at 3.5 dimes per game.
Strong passing and the ability to limit turnovers give Ball State the edge agains the Zips.
- Series History: Ball State leads 20-16, including the Cardinals 80-70 win earlier this year.
- Plybon is currently ranked second, third, fifth, 13th, 35th and 40th, respectively, among active career leaders in three pointers attempted (839), triples attempted per game (7.23), triples made (294), three pointers made per contest (2.53), field goals attempted (1,316) and points (1,534).
- Across all divisions of women’s basketball, Plybon is rated fourth in three pointers attempted, sixth in triples taken per game and seventh in three pointers made this year.
- All-time leader in Akron history in three pointers made
- Since the start of the 2011-12 campaign, the Zips have won more than 71 percent (.711) of their games at home, having posted a 59-24 mark.
- Have won 19 or more games in each of the last four seasons.
Ball State notes:
- 12-3 when holding opponents under 70 points.
- Have won 8 of the last ten contests.
- Moriah Monaco was named MAC West Player of the Week for her efforts against Buffalo, 35 points, and Northern Illinois, 23 points.
- Carmen Grande is third in the nation in assists per game at 7.7.
- Team leads the MAC in scoring margin (+11.9), field goal percentage (.448), blocked shots and assists.