Women’s basketball will play Ball State at 7 p.m. Thursday at McGuirk Arena with a chance to move into the No. 2 seed in the Mid-American Conference tournament.
This is the final home game of the season, meaning it will be the final home game for the seniors on the team.
Seniors Brandie Baker, Jalisa Olive and Jessica Schroll will all be playing their last home game, making this a special night to both the seniors and head coach Sue Guevara.
“Our senior class has had a fair amount of success,” Guevara said. “Brandie and (Olive), obviously, have been here the longest. Brandie has put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this program. It’s their competitiveness, desire and heart to compete in helping to create the championship culture.
“Schroll has come in and done a really nice job of helping us play a really tough non-conference schedule and getting us to where we are right now. I just want this to be the most successful season those three have.” Guevara said.
Offensive rebounding hurt on Sunday, as Toledo was able to take advantage of extra opportunities inside, scoring 44 points in the paint.
The Chippewas and Cardinals are tied for second in the MAC West. They are each 10-3 in conference play with BSU holding the tiebreaker. A win for CMU would even the season series, playing an important role for MAC tournament seeding next week.
Other players will have to step up as junior guard Jessica Green is out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL.
Green was a leader on the floor all season, averaging 11.8 points per game, which was second on the team behind sophomore guard Crystal Bradford.
Guevara said the team’s depth has been key all season, and now, more than ever, its importance will be crucial to the team’s success.
“Depending on who we are playing, the lineup could change,” Guevara said. “Not only are you looking at Jalisa Olive, Kerby Tamm and Kylie Welch, but also Taylor Johnson and Jas’Mine Bracey coming in and making a difference.
“The beauty of our team has been the depth. It’s going to be about producing by committee, not just one player.” Guevara said.
Expect rebounding to play a big role once again. As a team, it’s first in the MAC in rebounding averaging, 43.5 per game. Last time the two played, on Feb. 7, it out-rebounded the Cardinals on the offensive glass 28-8, scoring 42 points in the paint, to BSU’s 36.
Guevara said she wants her team to focus on staying composed throughout the entire game while taking advantage of match-ups.
“The goal is to finish,” Guevara said. “We also put up, I think, 80 or 81 shots last time, but it’s about finishing those shots. They do a really nice job of packing it in defensively and look to take away our red zone shots.
“We have to be patient offensively and make them make all their switches and take advantage of the mismatches, but then we have to attack the glass. The one thing that disappointed me the most in our last game wasn’t as much our consistency, as it was our composure.”
CMU also comes in with the conference’s top-ranked offense, scoring nearly 76 points per game, while the Cardinals have one of the worst field goal percentage defenses in the MAC.
They allow opponents to shoot 37.6 percent, which is ranked tenth in the MAC. The Chippewas are second in field goal percentage, shooting 43.4 percent per game.
Freshman guard Nathalie Fontaine has led them all season. She is first on her team in both points per game (14.3) and rebounds per game (6.8).
Fontaine is also fourth in the conference in field goal percentage, averaging 52.1 percent from the floor during conference play. In her last game against CMU at Worthen Arena, she scored 23 points to lead all players.
Junior guard Niki DiGuilio and senior forward Jessica Schroll are coming off good performances. DiGuilio led CMU with 17 points, while Schroll contributed with 15 points and seven rebounds.
Taking care of the ball is something Ball State does well. It’s second in the conference in turnover margin at +3.46, forcing opponents into 19.5 turnovers per game, which is second-best in the MAC.
That is another place Green will be missed, as she was the team leader in steals with 56 this season.