At 2:45 a.m. Tuesday, Ball departed State Women’s Basketball Muncie, Indiana.
After 11 hours of driving, the ball reached Logan, Utah State Women’s Basketball.
A long day of travel turns into a late-night exercise, 8pm in Muncie, but it’s only 6pm in Logan.
Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. in Muncie and 2:00 p.m. in Logan, the Cardinals finally got started on what they came to Utah to do. A basketball game.
“We were out and about a lot yesterday and when we went to the gym last night and worked out and shot around this morning I think we were finally ready to play,” senior Annie Rauch said. “So, I think you sort of saw that when we were out there. It was just good to do what we came here to do after traveling for so long.”
After last summer, Ball State emerged victorious 80-55, improving their record to 3-2 while Utah State is now 1-4
“Basic offensive machine.”
This is how the Aggies’ commentators described Ball State’s offense in their matchup against Utah State.
That “basic offensive machine” was evident in the first half, when the Cardinals shot 51.6% from field, 46.2% from threes, and 80% from the free throw line. Although the Cardinals ended the first half like this, the first quarter didn’t look quite as dominant.
In the first quarter, the Cardinals led by just four points, 19-15, but things changed when Ball State came back on court in the second quarter. Especially on the defensive side of the ball, head coach Brady Sallee said.
“We changed our ball shield, they got too much penetration from the ball shields and we made a slight adjustment there,” Sallee said. “I felt that our children did a great job [the] Adaptation, cut the ground and made it really hard for Utah State to do anything in rhythm. Then we started hitting shots, we would stop, come down and do three-pointers and move the ball really well.
At the end of the game, the stats changed, but not much. The Cardinals completed 47.5% from field goals, 34.6% from three, and 78.9% from the free throw line.
“I think that’s closer to who we are,” Sallee said. “I think we were looking for a game where we do eight plus three so it was nice to see some of that go down and really it was kind of across the board. I know (PhD student) Thelma [Dis Agustsdottir] made three, but Madelyn [Bischoff] made a pair, (freshman) Sydney Bolden made a pair [and] (Senior) Sydney Shafer made a pair.”
Ball State came into the matchup, forcing an average of 22 turnovers per game. At the end of last summer, the Cardinals equaled their average against Utah State.
At No. 7 Notre Dame (4-0) Madelyn Bischoff was one of the leaders for Ball State as a sophomore, and it was no different against the Aggies. Bischoff led the Cardinals level on points with 12 points, adding two steals, three assists and two rebounds.
When asked what traced back to her recent performances, the answer was quick and easy.
“Definitely my teammates,” said Bischoff. “The way we move the ball and contribute together just really makes a difference in everything.”
Sallee credited Bischoff with a great defensive performance at half court and the ability to make three-pointers and get the rim and goal. Bischoff also spoke about the lessons learned at Notre Dame and how Ball State learned from that experience and the mistakes.
Ball State found another leader in Rauch. Rauch tied with Bischoff on 12 points and led the team with eight rebounds. In her 18 minutes played, Rauch went 5-6 off the field and was 2-2 from the free throw line.
“It felt good, I feel like our team had a lot of momentum, so I just went with it when I came in,” said Rauch.
Since the Cardinals travel to BYU (2-4) at 6:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, it can be overlooked that they will miss Thanksgiving while most students are at home. Even when the Cardinals aren’t home, they’re still having fun on the road trip.
“[Road trips are] Always great. I think we’re having a good time everywhere and it’s going to be nice,” said Rauch. “Tomorrow we’re having a little Thanksgiving dinner as a team, so that’s going to be good too. Just relaxing a bit and enjoying each other’s company always helps with chemistry.”
Bischoff supported Rauch with her thoughts on traveling for Ball State road trips
“I love being with my team during these times,” Bischoff said. “Honestly, we are a family and I think it’s just fun to travel with them, it never gets boring. It was a really long day yesterday but it felt like we slept and recovered and it really showed how we play as a team.”