Women’s basketball’s offense can’t keep pace with Ball State

By Frank Gogola

In a game of runs, women’s basketball couldn’t find the offensive firepower to match Ball State’s 3-point barrage Wednesday.

The Huskies (9-18, 5-12 MAC) lost to the Ball State Cardinals (13-15, 8-9 MAC), 67-57, at the John E. Worthen Arena in Muncie, Ind.

The Huskies got within eight points, 63-55, with 1:41 to play after trailing by as many as 15 points, 61-46, with 6:17 to play; however, they didn’t get any closer.

“I felt like we played so hard,” said head coach Kathi Bennett. “I credit this team because we don’t quit; we fight, we get opportunity after opportunity, and our lack of smarts down the stretch — and it was taking care of the ball, unforced turnovers, not taking open shots — just kill us. We’re right there defensively. We were playing extremely hard. [It was] just a lack of cohesiveness on the offensive end.”

Only six Huskies registered points in the scorebook. Redshirt junior forward Jenna Thorp paced the Huskies with 14 points. Redshirt junior guard Danny Pulliam added 12 points and freshman forward Jazmine Harris chipped in 10 points.

The Huskies held Ball State to 67 points, but the Cardinals drowned the Huskies from 3-point range, shooting 42.3 percent (11-26) from beyond the arc.

“They made some incredible 3[-pointers],” Bennett said. “… They got us on the dribble-at flare. We did not do a good job at switching out on that at all. They shot lights out. I don’t think they were wide open. [In the] second half they were more wide open. [In the] first half they got one transition when we didn’t get matched up, but other than that, they shot lights out.”

The Cardinals were led by Brittany Carter’s game-high 23 points. Carter shot 66.7 percent (8-12) from the field and 60 percent (6-10) from beyond the arc.

The Huskies outrebounded the Cardinals, 34-25, but each team scored nine second-chance points. They also outscored the Cardinals in the paint, 22-20.

“You can’t play harder,” Bennett said. “I love this team to death. You can’t play harder. We have to play a heck of a lot smarter — that’s out Achilles heel.”

NIU committed 17 turnovers, which led to 19 Ball State points.

The Huskies close out the regular season against the Western Michigan Broncos (12-16, 8-9 MAC) at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Convocation Center.

NIU will play the Eastern Michigan Eagles (16-12, 6-11 MAC) in the No. 8 vs. No. 9 game Monday, but the campus site is still to be determined. To host the first-round game, the Huskies will need to beat Western Michigan Saturday and have Eastern Michigan lose to the Central Michigan Chippewas (20-9, 16-1 MAC), but they will still need help from other MAC teams due to tiebreakers.