Sunday night saw the Ball State women’s basketball squad defeat the ACC’s Pittsburgh Panthers 68-66 in a competitive overtime game. The Cardinals’ statement non-conference victory marks the program’s first ever win against an ACC foe, and furthers their already successful start to the 2022-23 campaign.
On the heels of a trip to the 2022 MAC tournament championship, Ball State has lived up to its second-place selection in the conference preseason poll.
In Brady Sallee’s 11th season as Ball State’s head coach, he has led his team to an impressive 8-2 record in its first ten games. This is the program’s best performance through its first ten contests since 2017-18, a season which saw 25 wins and a Women’s NIT appearance.
The Cardinals arrived at this record by way of a six-game winning streak, which they started after a 2-2 opening record which featured a win against in-state rival Butler.
Pittsburgh isn’t the only feather in the cap for the Cardinals’ successful stint thus far in the 2022 season; they’ve also collected road wins against Utah State and BYU, and a home win against a talented IUPUI squad which captured the 2022 Horizon League championship.
Leading the Cardinals through its non-conference schedule is sophomore guard Ally Becki. A hard-playing, well-rounded guard, Becki ranks first on the team in rebounds, steals, and assists, and her 10.4 points per game makes her the third leading scorer.
Becki, a Brownsburg, Ind. product, was tabbed as First Team Preseason All-MAC, and the squad’s success will likely depend on her level of play down the stretch of the season.
In addition to Becki’s role in the team’s early achievements, Anna Clephane, Thelma Dis Agustsdottir, and Marie Kiefer have also shined.
Clephane, a senior guard hailing from Taylor Mill, Kentucky, has returned from a crushing season-ending injury last season to lead the squad in scoring with 12.3 points per game.
Dis Agustsdottir, a 2022 All-MAC Honorable Mention honoree, ranks in the top five for the most three-pointers made in program history, and has again proven to be a threat from deep with 23 treys (tied for the second most in the MAC).
In her second year in the cardinal and white, Kiefer’s has used her six-foot-two frame and athleticism to her advantage in the paint. She is currently seventh in the MAC in total rebounds, and fifth in total blocks.
Given their fast start out of the gates, Ball State has received much acclaim from the NCAA’s NET rating system. Ball State currently sits at 87th of 361 programs nationally per the rankings, slotting the Cardinals in higher than power conference teams such as Kentucky, Washington, and West Virginia.
The Cardinals’ placement in the NET is certainly worth monitoring as the season unfolds, as it will be used by the selection committee to assess the resumes of teams vying for an at-large bid.
The red-hot Cardinals’ winning streak and forward momentum in the NET standings will soon be on the line in the Caribbean, where they will participate in the two-game Puerto Rico Classic. Ball State will square off against Tarleton State on Dec. 19, with a game against Richmond to follow on Dec. 20.