Meanwhile, the Ball State women’s basketball team had never played in the NCAA Tournament.
So naturally, the Cardinals upset the two-time defending national champion Volunteers. But that wasn’t the biggest surprise in what ESPN’s Mechelle Voepel dubbed the biggest upset ever in the women’s tournament.
The 12th-seed Cardinals handed the Vols their first first-round loss in the tournament’s 28-year history by a score of 71-55 in moment judged the greatest in Ball State sports history.
“I would be lying to you if I told you I thought it would be a 16-point victory,” Ball State guard Kiley Jarrett said after the game. “It hasn’t hit me yet. It is just unbelievable.”
Tennessee became the first defending champion to lose its opening game in the women’s tourney. Old Dominion won the title in 1985 and failed to make the tournament the following year.
“I thought we were tentative, maybe uptight,” Vols coach Pat Summitt said after the game. “But you have to give credit where credit is due and that’s to the Ball State basketball team. They had a lot more toughness. They beat us to loose balls. They made shots.”
Porchia Green led Ball State with 23 points and Audrey McDonald added 18. The Mid-American Conference champions took the lead for good on a 3-pointer by Emily Maggert with just more than 14 minutes remaining and dominated the second half to capture the biggest win in school history.
“To go out and do what they just did, it’s going to take us a really long time to get our minds around the accomplishment that they have been able to achieve,” first-year Ball State coach Kelly Packard said.
Most historic upset ever in the women’s NCAA tournament? Yes, Voepel wrote for ESPN: “More so than what most people previously considered the most historic: No. 16 Harvard’s upset of No. 1 Stanford in 1998.”
Above Ball State celebrates its victory against Tennessee in the 2009 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. (Courtesy Michael Hickey/BSU Photo Services)
THIS WEEK’S GREATEST MOMENTS
• Monday: Ball State and Belmont
• Tuesday: Bemidji State and Boston College
• Wednesday: Boston University and Bowling Green
• Thursday: Brown and Bucknell
• Friday: Buffalo and Cal State Bakersfield