CLEVELAND, Ohio – The fifth-seeded Ball State women’s basketball team knocked No. 4 Buffalo out the Mid-American Conference Tournament Thursday afternoon by earning a 74-60 quarterfinal round victory in Quicken Loans Arena.
With the win, the Cardinals (17-15) will take on the No. 1 seed Bowling Green Falcons in the MAC Semifinals Friday at Noon in Quicken Loans Arena. Ball State’s last semifinal appearance came in 2013, when the Cardinals earned one of the two triple byes as the No. 2 seed.
In Thursday’s win over the Bulls (17-13), sophomore guard Nathalie Fontaine led all scorers for the second straight contest with 17 points and pulled down seven rebounds. Fontaine shot 87 percent from the field (7-of-8). Freshman guard Shelbie Justice added 15 points after going 3-for-4 from behind the arc, while senior guard Brandy Woody finished the game with 14 points.
The Cardinals came out of the gates strong in the second half taking a 45-37 lead after a layup in the paint from Fontaine with 16:58 left on the clock. Ball State continued to control the half building a 10 point (51-41) cushion at the 13:25 mark.
Buffalo would not go away quietly, however, as the Bulls orchestrated an 11-5 run to battle back within two (54-52) with 7:21 remaining. That was as close as Buffalo would get to the Cardinals, as Morrison, Woody and Fontaine each hit clutch baskets to help Ball State regain control over the closing minutes and earn the win.
Ball State opened the game with a 5-0 run to take an early lead. After that, both teams traded baskets and the Cardinals held a slim 15-14 edge at the 12:31 mark after Morrison knocked down a three-point basket.
Buffalo answered with a 7-0 run to take a 23-16 advantage over the Cardinals with 10:11 on the clock. Justice would then hit a three-point basket to spark a 12-1 scoring spree to give Ball State a 28-24 lead with just over six minutes remaining in the half. The Cardinals held onto that lead, taking a 38-34 edge over the Bulls into intermission.
The No. 5 seeded Ball State women's basketball team will face the No. 1 seed Bowling Green Falcons Friday in the Mid-American Conference semifinals at Noon in Quicken Loans Arena. The Cardinals fell to the Falcons earlier in the MAC regular season.