MUNCIE, Ind. - Ball State's women's basketball team improved to 8-1 in Mid-American Conference play - the team's best league start since the 2006-07 campaign - after tallying a 68-61 homecourt victory over Central Michigan Thursday.
Ball State evened its overall record at 11-11 with the victory, while CMU fell to 13-9 overall and 7-2 in the MAC.
Nathalie Fontaine led the Ball state attack with a career high 23 points plus added four rebounds and one blocked shot. Katie Murphy tallied 15 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double. Shelbie Justice contributed 11 points and six rebounds, while Brittany Carter added nine rebounds, six assists, one steal, one block and four points.
Ball State managed only a 35 percent shooting mark from the field in the first half, but turned that around to a 52 percent attack in the second half. The Cardinals defense limited the Chippewas to only 7-of-30 made field goals (.233) in the first half and a .309 mark for the game.
Ball State took an early 4-0 lead with 16:12 on the clock after baskets from Murphy and Fontaine. Central Michigan then put together a 9-2 run to give them the 9-6 advantage over Ball State at the 11:26 mark.
After that, both teams traded baskets which consisted of four lead changes and two ties. The Cardinals then orchestrated a 13-2 run given Ball State an 11- point (25-14) advantage over the Chippewas with 2:02 remaining in the half. Central Michigan came to within seven (25-18) in the last seconds but a layup from Fontaine as time expired put the Cardinals up 27-18 over the Chippewas at the half.
Ball State carried its first half momentum into the second half with its largest cushion being 15 (39-24) at the 13:52 mark. Central Michigan slowly chipped away at the Cardinals lead after the Chippewas put together a 19-7 run to come within three (46-43) with 5:14 left in the game.
The Cardinals regained control after a three point basket from Justice along with three layups from Murphy and two from Fontaine which put the Cardinals back up by 10 (57-47) with 2:09 remaining. Ball State managed to hit its free throws down the stretch to seal the victory, making 10-of-10 from the line in the final minute and a half of the game.
The Ball State women's basketball team will face Toledo in MAC action Sunday at 2 p.m. in Worthen Arena. The two teams are tied for first in the MAC West Division with identical 8-1 league marks.
The game will be Ball State's "Pack The House" game as the athletics department is encouraging as much fan attendance and participation as possible for the showdown.