– The Ball State women’s basketball team (18-17) Women’s National Invitation Tournament run was cut short after suffering a close 69-65 loss at Big Ten foe Northwestern (16-15) Thursday night in Welsh-Ryan Arena.
Head Ball State women’s basketball coach Brady Sallee, who is in his second season at Ball State, became only the second coach in program history to take the Cardinals to back-to-back WNITs. The last time it happened was 2001-02 and 2002-03 under former head coach Tracy Roller.
Four players scored in double figures for the Cardinals with Brittany Carter leading the way with 17 points. Shelbie Justice and Nathalie Fontaine each had 12 points apiece while teammate Brandy Woody ended her career with 11.
The second half consisted of one tie and eight lead changes. Northwestern came out of the gates strong after the intermission with a 14-5 run to take a 48-43 lead with 14:42 on the clock. Jill Morrison's layup at the 11:07 mark would knot the game 51-51 for the lone tie. The Wildcats wouldn't trail the Cardinals again up until the 4:26 mark when Carter knocked down her third three point basket of the contest giving Ball State a 61-60 edge over Northwestern.
At the other end of the court Maggie Lyon would answer with a three pointer to put Northwestern back up by two, 63-61. The Wildcats remained in control the remainder of the half. In Ball State’s last efforts Fontaine would draw a foul after driving to the basket, she would go 2-for-2 from the charity stripe with 50 seconds on the clock to make it a two-point (67-65) ball game. As time was winding down, Christen Inman would hit a layup to seal the victory for Northwestern.
Ball State opened the game with a 9-5 lead over Northwestern with only three minutes shaved off the clock. After that, the Wildcats fought back with a 10-0 run to take a 10-point (19-9) advantage with 10:13 remaining in the first half. The Cardinals battled back after Carter connected on back-to-back three pointers, sparking an 18-8 run to take back a 28-27 advantage with 5:30 left in the half. Northwestern kept the game close, however Ball State would control the rest of the half to take a 38-34 edge over the Wildcats at intermission. Carter would lead all scorers at the half with 14 points.
The Cardinals became postseason eligible by winning seven of its final eight games en route to advancing to last Saturday’s Mid-American Conference Tournament championship game for the first time since winning it all in 2009. In the semifinals of the MAC Tournament, Ball State scored a thrilling 73-55 win over 25th-ranked Bowling Green. The Cardinals then lost to No. 3 Akron 79-68 in the title game.