OVERVIEW: The Cardinals of coach Brady Sallee enter this contest with a 5-10 overall record but a 2-0 mark in MAC play. BSU opened league play with an impressive 62-59 win over Miami, the pre-season favorite to win the East Division, then claimed a 57-51 win at Northern Illinois. Ball State entered MAC play on a four-game losing streak, and the Cards are 2-6 on the road this season. … Ball State enters this contest tied with Central Michigan for first place in the MAC’s West Division, one game ahead of Toledo and Eastern Michigan in third.
BY THE NUMBERS: Ball State is eighth in the MAC in offense, scoring an average of 57.8 points per game, and is sixth in the league defensively, allowing 63.5 points per contest. The Cardinals’ scoring margin of minus-4.8 points per game ranks seventh in the MAC. … A few other stats of note for BSU: First, the team ranks sixth in field-goal percentage (38.1 percent) and eighth in 3-point percentage (28.9 percent). Defensively, the Cards are sixth in field-goal defense (40.0 percent) and are ninth in 3-point defense (32.6 percent). ... Ball State ranks 11th in the MAC in rebounding, allowing opponents to average 5.7 more rebounds per game than it does. There is especially an opportunity on the offensive glass, as the Cardinals allow opponents to get an offensive rebound on 38.6 percent of their opportunies (the worst mark in the MAC). … Ball State make up for that by being very careful with the ball. The Cards rank second-best in the league in turnover margin, forcing 2.60 more turnovers per game than they commit.
ALL-TIME SERIES: This is the 57th meeting in the series, and BG holds a 42-14 lead. Bowling Green has won the last three meetings, including a 63-52 win at Worthen Arena on Jan. 25, 2012.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: The Cardinals are led in scoring by freshman Nathalie Fontaine, who ranks seventh in the MAC with her average of 13.3 points per game. She also stands 13th in rebounding (6.3 rpg), eighth in field-goal percentage (46.1 percent), and ninth in free-throw percentage (77.2 percent). … Junior Brandy Woody is second on the team in scoring (and ranks 16th in the MAC) at 10.7 points per game. She also stands seventh in the league in assists (3.7 apg), sixth in steals (2.3 spg), and is fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.2 assists per turnover). … Sophomore Brittany Carter is third on the team (and 22nd in the league) with 9.5 points per game. She also is tied for third in the MAC with 2.5 steals per game and tied for fifth in 3-pointers per game (2.0) and fifth in blocked shots (1.3 bpg). … Junior Katie Murphy averages 8.9 points per game. She also ninth in the league in rebounding (6.6 rpg) – she leads the MAC with 3.4 offensive rebounds per game – and is 14th in field-goal percentage (42.1 percent). … The fifth probable starter for the Cardinals is sophomore Shelbie Justice, who averages 7.5 points per game. Justice is fifth in the MAC in free-goal percentage (80.9 percent).
BG KEYS TO VICTORY: 1. Board it up. One number that looks radically different in BSU’s two MAC wins is its rebounding stats, as the Cardinals have outrebounded their first two league opponents by an average of 5.5 rebounds per game. Ending defensive possessions with a rebound, and getting offensive rebounds will be important. 2. Take care of the ball. Ball State has done a nice job of forcing opponents to make more turnovers than they do. Limiting turnovers will help the efficiency of BG’s offense, and hurt the Cards’ offense as well. 3. Don’t look ahead – or back. Learn the lessons available from the UT game, and then move on. Also, don’t look past a Ball State team that, in the past, has been an easy win for BG. Focus on the moment, get the win, and get some positive momentum going.
GAME NOTES: Tipoff is at 7 p.m. … The game will be on the radio at 88.1 FM. … The game also will be televised by BCSN. … The next game for the Falcons is on Sunday, Jan. 20, when they play their first MAC road game of the season at Ohio. … The next home game for BG is on Thursday, Jan. 24 when the Falcons host pre-season East Division favorite Miami at the Stroh Center.