Booker’s Strong Start Guides Ball State Women’s Basketball Past Bellarmine
Booker scored 10 of the game’s first 12 points in a 98-42 win at Bellarmine
Credit Source: Ball State University Athletics
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Junior guard Essence Booker scored 10 of the game’s first 12 points to help the Ball State women’s basketball team close non-conference play with a dominating 98-42 win over Bellarmine Monday night at Freedom Hall.
The Cardinals (2-3) picked up their second victory of the young season with an impressive showing all-around against a Knights (0-1) team which was not only playing its first game of the 2020 season, but also making its NCAA Division I debut.
Led by Booker’s run at the beginning of the game, Ball State took commanding 27-1 edge at the 2:31 mark of the opening period and never looked back. Aside from the point total, another key stat in the early run was Ball State’s ability to keep control of the basketball.
“I am really proud of our team, because we have been harping on the turnovers big time,” head coach Brady Sallee said after the win. “I thought we did a great job of taking care of the basketball and that led to more possessions. We were hitting shots early and that maintained throughout the game. I am really proud of the effort on the road, especially with us traveling day-of for the first time.”
The Cardinals, who entered the game averaging north of 20 turnovers a contest, did not turn the ball over during the early-game run and committed just one in the first 10 minutes while forcing Bellarmine into seven. In fact, Ball State committed just eight turnovers in the game while forcing the Knights into 19.
Offensively, five Cardinals reached double figures in the victory with Booker’s season-high 22 points leading the way. Booker finished the contest shooting 8-of-12 (.667) from the field and 3-of-4 (.750) from behind the arc, while hitting all three of her free throws.
“For me, Essence has been practicing this way so when she does it in a game, it’s like okay, there she goes,” Sallee said. “Leading into the Western game, you could start to see her get comfortable with her teammates and her role. The great thing about her is she’s hungry to be a great player and is going to be yearning for more.”
Kentucky native redshirt-sophomore Anna Clephane added a 16-point performance, while sophomores Sydney Freeman and Annie Rauch chipped in 15 points apiece. Rauch also led the Cardinals defensively with 11 rebounds for her second straight double-double of the season. Junior Blake Smith rounded out BSU’s double-digit scorers with 10.
In addition to its dominating offense, Ball State played aggressive defense from the opening tip, holding Bellarmine to just 1-of-8 shooting from the field over the first 10 minutes. The Cardinals’ 29-5 edge after the opening period was its largest first period advantage so far this season.
Ball State kept up the momentum in the second period, extending its lead to 52-19 going into halftime. As Ball State continued to dominate offensively, the Cardinals had eight different players score by intermission.
During the third quarter, Ball State shot 64.3 percent and continued to dictate the game on both the offensive and defensive ends. The fourth stanza mimicked the first three quarters as the Cardinals never let up to seal their impressive 56-point victory over Bellarmine.
In addition to winning the turnover battle, the Cardinals held a 48-to-18 advantage in the paint which is another point of pride for Sallee. Overall, Ball State shot 52.3 percent from the field while holding Bellarmine to 23.1 rate of success.
The Ball State women’s basketball will now turn its attention back to Mid-American Conference play, starting Sunday with a 2 p.m. ET tipoff at Akron inside James A. Rhodes Arena.
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