The women’s basketball team finds itself torn between pride and disappointment after a 2-4 start to the season. On one hand, the Owls are energized to know that they stood tall in the faces of national powerhouses Duke, Georgia and Stanford. On the other hand, the question of what could have been still lingers.
On Friday, the Owls took No. 8 Duke to the wire, hovering within three points until the final two and a half minutes. Saturday brought exuberance as the Owls upset No. 22 Purdue in dominating fashion, 61-47. Sunday, the Owls coughed up a 17-point halftime lead to No. 4 Stanford, losing 63-54.
Wednesday night brings new life to the Owls as they begin a three-game home stand at the Liacouras Center against a more pedestrian opponent in Ball State.
While Ball State (3-2) heads to Philadelphia lacking the credentials of recent Temple foes, the Cardinals bring confidence from winning the La Quinta Inn & Suites Thanksgiving Tournament. They defeated Vermont and Northern Arizona, respectively.
Senior Julie DeMuth was awarded Most Valuable Player for averaging 21 points and nine rebounds per game. The 5-foot-10 DeMuth has challenged opposing defenses with 16 ppg, efficiently stifling defenses with a balance of inside and outside scoring.
Complimenting her on the perimeter is the sharpshooting backcourt combination of junior Porchia Green and sophomore Audrey McDonald. The duo has worked in rhythm to average just over 24 points per game and owns a 50 percent shooting percentage from three-point territory.
Cardinals coach Tracy Roller has the Ball State program locked on a progressive track. Since Roller acquired the helm in 2001 she has amassed a 115-66 record. Last season was the finest in program history, as the Cardinals went 24-7 overall and 13-3 in the Mid-American Conference. The team clinched the MAC West Division title and played in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament.
The key to an Owls’ victory over the Cardinals will likely be in the paint. The Owls have out-rebounded four of their six opponents this year, thanks in part to 6-2 senior Lady Comfort and 6-4 junior Shanea Cotton. Comfort and Cotton are averaging 9.7 and 7.3 rebounds, respectively.
The Cardinals will be undersized with 6-1 senior forward Lisa Rusche as the only starter over six feet. Coming off the bench will be two other 6-1 players in junior Danielle Gratton and freshman Emily Maggert.
Offensively, the Owls will look to senior Ashley Morris to continue her scoring output. She currently leads the team with 16.8 ppg and 22 total assists. Comfort has also been able to find the bottom of the net, averaging 12.7 ppg.
The Owls will also need to find a defensive balance throughout the game. They have outscored opponents by 21 total points in the first half, but fallen behind by five points in second half action.
Anthony Stipa can be firstname.lastname@example.org.