NORMAL — As Katie Broadway batted a first-half Ball State pass out of bounds near the Illinois State bench, Redbird women’s basketball coach Stephanie Glance practically leapt onto the court to offer her junior guard an appreciative high five.
“The first half we played unbelievable defense,” said Glance. “That’s exactly what we had in mind.”
ISU’s offense wasn’t bad, either. And don’t shortchange a dominant rebounding performance as the well-rounded Redbirds trounced Ball State, 77-51, Thursday before a Redbird Arena crowd of 1,280.
ISU, which surrendered 100 and 86 points in its last two games, rolled to a 49-23 halftime lead.
“I really feel like that was the best half of the year we’ve played defensively and probably the best offensively,” Glance said. “I think those go hand in hand. Hopefully this is a little glimpse of what we’ll see consistently this season.”
The Redbirds (5-2) used a 12-0 spurt that featured two straight Broadway 3-pointers off Shala Jackson assists to build a 22-6 lead.
“We’ve prided ourselves on rebounding and defense. But so far our defensive intensity hasn’t been where we know it can be,” said Broadway. “Our defense was great the first half.”
ISU continued on its way to 7 of 10 first-half shooting from beyond the arc with 3-pointers from Alexis Jenkins and Jackson while scoring nine straight points for a 46-19 cushion.
“It’s just disappointment across the board,” Ball State coach Kelly Packard said. “You look at the stat sheet and it doesn’t show we did anything well.”
The Cardinals (4-4) were outrebounded, 51-34, and converted just 7 of 18 at the free throw line.
Not even a 1-for-14 second-half shooting drought could undo ISU’s first-half excellence.
“We were a lot more aggressive today,” said senior point guard Amanda Clifton, who handed out a career-high nine assists. “We’re doing what we’re supposed to do. It’s a good feeling.”
Broadway led all scorers with 18 points, Jackson chipped in 12 and Jenkins 10. Hannah Spanich matched her 10 points with a game-high 10 rebounds.
“We’re consistently rebounding well,” said Glance, who also received seven boards each from Emily Hanley and Megan Grace. “That’s becoming a trademark of this team, which I’m really happy to see. And it’s coming from all areas.”
Emily Maggert topped Ball State, which shot 37 percent from the floor, with 12 points and four blocks.