One Mount Everest in an afternoon, they could do. Two was one too many.
And so the final score at the Gates Center, on a Sunday when the scoreboard was against the home side virtually all day: Ball State 83, IPFW 75.
It was the end product of a day when the Mastodons (7-7) scaled one double-digit deficit, and valiantly took a run at scaling another. Down 69-55 with 7:22 to play, the Mastodons scored 12 of the next 14 points to cut the lead to 71-67 with 3:36 left.
But unlike the first half, when the Mastodons outscored Ball State 19-6 across the final 7:40 to take a 37-36 lead into halftime, this time IPFW could get no closer.
Im disappointed, said IPFW womens coach Chris Paul, whose team had won its last three games and five of its last seven. I thought they were tougher than us, I thought they were quicker to the ball than us. We didnt come ready to go for the first four minutes of each half. That was the difference in the game.
Amanda Hyde, who led the Mastodons with 32 points, seven rebounds, five assists, two blocks and a steal agreed.
We can come back from a 15-point deficit once. But to do it twice in a game is pretty impossible, she said.
The Cardinals (5-6) rode blistering starts in each half and exploited a decided height advantage inside, outscoring the Mastodons 34-16 in the paint and outrebounding them 32-27 behind 6-foot-2 Nathalie Fontaine, 6-foot Katie Murphy and 6-5 Renee Bennett. Four Cardinals scored in double figures, led by Brandy Woody, who scored all but one of her 22 points in the second half.
The Cardinals stuck nine of their first 12 shots to jet out to a 24-9 lead in the first 6 and a half minutes before the Mastodons dug themselves out. But then the Cardinals came out of the break blazing again – and before the Mastodons knew what hit them, Ball State had scored the first 14 points of the half and led 50-37 less than 3 minutes in.
And this time, the long climb back was a bit too long.