Sharkey's 36 Leads Bulls to Road Win
MUNCIE, IN – It was a career afternoon for junior forward Kristen Sharkey, as she scored a career-high 36 points on the road at Ball State (8-10, 3-4 MAC). The Bulls (11-7, 4-3 MAC) would need every last one of those points, leaving Muncie with a 73-69 win. The fourth-straight win in the Mid-American Conference season is the most for UB since 2003. Sharkey's scoring total was the third most in a single game in program history, and she benefitted from a career-high 11 assists from Margeaux Gupilan.
The first half was one of the most complete halves the team has played all season, with the defense holding Ball State without a field goal for nearly ten straight minutes to build a 17-1 lead, and the offense using terrific performances from Sharkey and Loesing to put up 39 total points, the second most in the first half in conference play. The Cardinals would miss on its first 14 shots of the half, and solid rebounding from UB would limit them to just one chance on the majority of the possessions. Meanwhile, Sharkey battled down low and created easy shots with her positioning. She also pulled down eight rebounds in the half, a big boost for a UB team that lost Christa Baccas and Alexus Malone to foul troubles.
Ball State, in need of a big win at home after two losses in its last three games, were much more effective in the second half offensively. Led by Nathalie Fontaine, who would score 30 points in the game, the team would rally back over a six-minute stretch with less than 10 minutes to go to make the Bulls sweat. From the 11:10 mark until a layup from Sharkey with 3:38 to play, Ball State went on a tear from the floor and hit 9-13 shots to pull all the way from 16 down to within just two points, 61-59.
Needing an answer, Buffalo would lean on improved free throw shooting and seven points from Kristen Sharkey in the final four minutes to pull out the win. Buffalo would hit 22-28 free throws in the game, and more importantly would make 10-14 in the final three minutes to seal the win. The Bulls led by seven, 70-63 with 20 seconds to go, but similar to Northern Illinois on Thursday, a spurt of threes would make the final score close.
Sharkey finished her day with 11-17 field goals made, and 13-14 free throws. The team hadn't had a 30-point effort since the 2011-12 season, and she would finish just three points from tying her former teammate Brittany Hedderson for the program record of 39 (set in 2011). Added to that, she would have ten rebounds (six offensive) in her best game as a Buffalo Bull. Loesing would finish with 21 points, while Gupilan had eight assists in the first half alone en route to her career day.
The team will now travel home to open the heart of MAC East play, starting this Thursday at home against rival Miami (OH). Tip off is scheduled for 7:00 in Alumni Arena.