BY PEYTON MONNELL | Ball State Sports Link
A fresh season of Mid-American Conference basketball is officially here and Ball State women’s basketball makes its return to the hardwood tonight against Milwaukee at 6:30 P.M. EST. on ESPN 3.
It’s the first of five non-conference matchups for Ball State, looking for its first season opener win since the 2017 season when the Cardinals defeated Cleveland State on the road 76-64.
Ball State and UW Milwaukee have only met a total of five times, with Ball State only winning once. This will be the first meeting since the 2003-04 season.
After a heartbreaking loss to end the season last year losing to Eastern Michigan in the opening round of the MAC Tournament, the Cardinals are back for more, and ready to prove that last season wasn’t a fluke.
With a 21-10 (13-5 MAC) overall record last season, Ball State won 13 more games than they did in the entire 2018-19 campaign.
The 13-game turnaround led all NCAA Division I Women’s basketball programs last season and spots 30th all-time in NCAA history.
Brady Sallee is an experienced and established head coach and has a lot to do with the women’s basketball success. Sallee returns to the court for his ninth year as the head coach of the Cardinals.
In his nine-year tenure, Ball State has made six appearances in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament, four 20-win seasons, and 149 victories, lining Sallee in the record books as the winningest coach in program history.
Sallee heads into tonight’s contest looking for his 150th career win, and first win against a school from Wisconsin since his arrival to Ball State.
To share the wealth of winning, Ball State added an abundance of transfers (Krystal Rice, Essence booker, and Ella Skeens) and two freshmen (Cameron Grant and Ivet Subirats) in the offseason, who could seek valuable minutes this season.
A loaded rotation in the 2019-20 season, and Ball State looks to keep it equivalent to kick off the season opener in Wisconsin. The Cardinals return All-MAC performers out of Oshlynn Brown and Sydney Freeman who did the bulk of the scoring last season along with Thelma Dis Augstsdottir.
Brown, selected for Preseason First Team All-MAC this season, carried the Cardinals as an aggressor in the paint last year with 426 points, 304 rebounds (2nd in MAC) and 18 blocks.
Brown found her 1,000 career point at Eastern Michigan last season becoming the 28th member of the program’s elite club. She needs 164 rebounds to hit 1,000 and become only the second player in Ball State women’s basketball history to reach 1,000 points and rebounds.
Not to mention that Ball State is stacked with players who spread the floor, returning eight of the top nine scorers including: Anna Clephane, Annie Rauch, Blake Smith, and Estel Puiggros.
Maliah Howard-Bass and Katie Helgason enter their fourth season with the Cardinals providing the senior leadership this team needs to compete in the MAC.
A Ball State team that found themselves deep in the preseason rankings last season, sits in the middle once again projected to finish third in the MAC behind Central Michigan (1) and Ohio (2).
Locking up the No. 2 spot in the MAC standings last season forces a tall task on the Cardinals to live up to the expectations.
Tip off is at 6:30 P.M. EST in Milwaukee Wisconsin inside the Klotsche Center.
#MACTION is back ladies and gentlemen.