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The Journal Gazette

  • Ball State University Ball State junior guard Carmen Grande averaged 7.3 points and 7.6 assists per game last season.

Thursday, November 09, 2017 1:00 am

Ball State Women's breakdown

Schedule

Nov. 1: Ill.-Springfield, 7 p.m. (exhibition)

Nov. 11: at Cleveland State, 1 p.m.

Nov. 13: Missouri St., 7 p.m.

Nov. 15: Lipscomb, 7 p.m.

Nov. 20: at Vanderbilt, 1 p.m.

Nov. 22: at Tennessee State, 2 p.m.

Nov. 29: Butler, 7 p.m.

Dec. 4: at Purdue, 7 p.m.

Dec. 7: Southeast Missouri State, 7 p.m.

Dec. 10: Oakland City, 2 p.m.

Dec. 18: Austin Peay, 11 a.m.

Dec. 21: W. Kentucky, 7 p.m.

Dec. 30: Central Michigan, 2 p.m.

Jan. 3: Miami (Ohio), 7 p.m.

Jan. 6: at Bowling Green, 2 p.m.

Jan. 10: at Akron, 7 p.m.

Jan. 13: Buffalo, 2 p.m.

Jan. 17: at Toledo, 7 p.m.

Jan. 20: at Kent State, 2 p.m.

Jan. 24: Bowling Green, 7 p.m.

Jan. 27: Northern Illinois, 2:30 p.m.

Jan. 31: Akron, 7 p.m.

Feb. 3: at Ohio, 1 p.m.

Feb. 7: E. Michigan, 7 p.m.

Feb. 10: at Western Michigan, TBD

Feb. 17: at Northern Illinois, 2 p.m.

Feb. 21: W. Michigan, 7 p.m.

Feb. 24: Toledo, 2 p.m.

Feb. 28: at Central Michigan, 7 p.m.

March 3: at Eastern Michigan, 2 p.m.

5 facts

• The Cardinals, led by sixth-year head coach Brady Sallee, are coming off their fifth straight postseason appearance. They went 21-11 overall, 14-4 in the Mid-American Conference West Division.

• Ball State was picked to finish third in the MAC West behind Central Michigan and Toledo.

• The Cardinals had the best assists-to-turnover ratio in the MAC last season with 600 assists to 508 turnovers.

• Ball State has gone 134 games with a made 3-point field goal dating to March 2013.

• Last season, the Cardinals had three players reach 1,000 career points: Guard Jill Morrison, center Renee Bennett and forward Moriah Monaco. It was the first time in school history where three players have reached the 1,000-point mark in a single season.

4 games of interest

Nov. 20 vs. Vanderbilt: The Cardinals will travel to Nashville over Thanksgiving weekend to take on the Commodores. Vanderbilt, a member of the Southeastern Conference, is led by former Indiana Fever head coach Stephanie White. White left the Fever to coach the Commodores beginning this season. Ball State and Vanderbilt have met only once before this season. The Commodores are coming off a 14-16 season. Last year's leading scorer, senior guard Rachel Bell, (11.1) returns for her senior year for the Commodores.

Nov. 29 vs. Butler: Ball State and Butler have met nine of the past 11 seasons. Last season, the Cardinals defeated the Bulldogs 74-50. That was the first time Ball State has beaten Butler at Hinkle Fieldhouse since the 2006-07 season. The Bulldogs are led by junior forward Tori Schickel, who last year averaged a double-double with 14.6 points and 11.7 rebounds per game.

Dec. 4 vs. Purdue: Sallee and company will travel to West Lafayette to take on the Boilermakers for the 25th meeting between the two programs. Last season, Ball State lost to Purdue in Muncie 58-42.

Dec. 30 vs. Central Michigan: The Chippewas are the team to beat in the MAC West, the overall-season championship as well as the conference, according to a poll of league coaches released Oct. 25. Last season, the Chippewas were picked to win all three areas but fell short of winning the MAC championship. The Cardinals split the season series last season with the Chippewas, losing the first meeting 101-92 and winning the second 81-73. Central Michigan didn't lose many players in the offseason, bringing back seven letter winners, including 2016-17 MAC Defensive Player of the Year Tinara Moore.

3 key players

Carmen Grande, Jr., G: The native of Madrid, Spain, is the quarterback of this Cardinals offense. Grande was third in the nation last season in total number of assists with 244, for a 7.6 average, and averaged 7.3 points. As one of two starters returning, the junior is averaging 31.4 minutes per game. In a field of new faces, look for her to continue directing this offense.

Destiny Washington, Sr., F: Washington contributed significantly off the bench last season. Washington played in all 32 games, making three starts last season. She averaged 10.2 points. Washington shot a team-high 55 percent from the field – the best of anyone who had more than 20 field goal attempts.

Moriah Monaco, Sr., F: The native of Dover, Ohio, was named to the All-MAC West Preseason team. As a junior, Monaco earned all-conference honors for the second consecutive season. She scored in double figures in 26 of the team's 32 games and started every game. Monaco enters her senior season fifth in all-time 3-point field goals made (203) at Ball State.

2 points of concern

Replacing Renee Bennett: The 6-foot-5 center led the Cardinals last season in points per game (17.5) and rebounds (8.1). Senior transfer forward Keri Kleist is 6-foot-3 and the tallest on the team with eligibility this season. But since she's been with the team for only a few months, it would be unfair for her to take on as big a role as Bennett once had.

Postseason blues: The Cardinals have made five straight WNITs. However, they have lost in the first round three times. The Cardinals are still looking to make it to the NCAA Tournament for a second time in school history. The lone appearance came in 2009, when the Cardinals shocked the basketball world in defeating two-time defending champion Tennessee.

1 major issue

Youthful team: The Cardinals have seven newcomers and six returners. The four true freshmen are guard Katie Helgasen, guard Maliah Howard-Bass, forward Sara Price and forward Oshlynn Brown. In addition, there are two transfers. Senior forward Keri Kleist, a transfer from CSU Bakersfield, will be eligible this season. Junior forward Zayn Dornstauder, transferring from San Francisco, will sit out because of NCAA transfer rules. Junior guard Jasmin Samz, who sat out last season after transferring from Saint Louis, will also be eligible to play this season. Integrating the newcomers into Sallee's system could pose a challenge for the Cardinals. However, with returning starters Grande and Monaco, the Cardinals shouldn't have a problem with leadership.

– Elizabeth Wyman, For The Journal Gazette