Bulls Knock Off 2nd Seeded Cardinals, Advance to Semi-Finals
CLEVELAND, OH- The third game of the first day of action saw Ball State take on the Lady Bulls of Buffalo.
The first quarter was back and forth and ended with Ball State up 18-17. However, the second quarter was all Buffalo, and the Bulls stormed to a 35-28 lead at the break.
Stephanie Reid, the junior guard that was All-MAC Defensive Team this season, lead Buffalo’s scoring pace with 8 points on 3-7 shooting. Joanna Smith did not have the greatest shooting performance through the first two frames, however, she made her presence known with 8 points, 3 rebounds, and a steal.
For the Cardinals, it was Mariah Monaco, the junior forward from Dover, Ohio, that was doing it all the first half. She poured in 8 points, including three long range buckets, and had three rebounds to help keep the Cards in it through that long second quarter. She was aided by Carmen Grande, the sophomore from Spain, who also caught fire from the field, going 4-5 for 10 points.
The third quarter was fairly even throughout. Monaco continued her shooting clinic, doubling her scoring total from the first half to give her 16. Grande continued to find her groove, pitching in another 4 in the third frame, and senior center Renee Bennett finally found her own rhythm, pouring in 7 including a big and one to tie the game at 47 all at the end of the third.
The fourth quarter started slow, the two teams deadlocked at 52 at the 5:00 mark. A series of unforced turnovers from the Cardinals and a few quick Buffalo baskets had the Bulls up 60-55 with only 2:00 left to play. Monaco continued her magic, draining a much needed triple to pull the Cardinals within two.
Unfortunately, Monaco did not have enough up her sleeve to will the Cardinals to the victory, as the number 2 seed would fall to Buffalo 69-65 after some late clutch free throws from Reid.
Monaco would finish with an outstanding 27 points on the night, however, her efforts were topped by Reid and Smith of Buffalo, as they poured in 18 and 14 points respectively. “Having Stephanie Reid and JoAnna Smith on your team is a blessing, it truly is” said Buffalo head coach Felisha Legette-Jackson.
One interesting note, the Bulls were able to pull off the upset despite going just 1-14 from beyond the arc. The Bulls will be back in action Friday night at the Q for the semi-finals.