Maliah Howard-Bass scored 15 points in her college basketball debut against Oakland City and 19 in a win at Tennessee State, but neither rank as her favorite moment of her young Ball State career.
That honor goes to the Cardinals’ 66-60 upset victory at Purdue on Dec. 4. Howard-Bass scored only three points in that game, but she savored Ball State’s first win against the Boilermakers since 1979.
“My mom went to school there, so I grew up around Purdue, and I have former teammates and players that I have played against were on that team, so it was like a big family reunion,” Howard-Bass said. “But it was great to go out there and play our game and come out with a win.”
That’s far from the only win the Cardinals have had this season. They’re off to a 10-0 start, the best start in school history.
Howard-Bass has played a significant role off the bench. The freshman from Columbus North is averaging 6.9 points while playing about 15½ minutes a game.
“Just the start that we’ve had is amazing,” Howard-Bass said. “I try to contribute as much as I can to my team and for my teammates and my coaches.”
Her biggest contribution came in the Nov. 22 win at Tennessee State. She hit four 3-pointers on her way to her career-high 19 points.
In that game, Howard-Bass played a team-high 30 minutes and was only one point behind Frannie Frazier for team-high scoring honors.
“I just played my game,” Howard-Bass said. “I hit open shots. I created for myself and my teammates, but it wasn’t just me that got me the 19. It was my teammates running up and down the court, finding me in transition when I’m open. It was an all-around team thing.”
Howard-Bass helped lead the Bull Dogs to a Class 4A state championship as a sophomore, a state runner-up finish as a junior and a final four appearance last year. She finished as the school’s second all-time leading scorer and was The Republic Girls Basketball Player of the Year the past two years and an Indiana All-Star selection last year.
So far, she hasn’t had much trouble adjusting to the college game.
“The pace is so much faster,” Howard-Bass said. “The expectations are higher. It’s just a higher level of basketball, and you have to be able to play off of your teammates.”
Perhaps the bigger adjustment for Howard-Bass has been in adapting to college life. The business major understands her responsibility to get to class, do homework and get in the mandated number of hours at the basketball team’s study tables.
Besides the pace of the game, her biggest adjustment in basketball may be in bringing the necessary intensity at the defensive end of the court.
“Coach Brady (Sallee) and the defensive staff do have great defensive drills that they put us through, and that’s a big target that we have that we want to get better at,” Howard-Bass said. “I think that’s what helped us to be 10-0. Hopefully, we can just build off of it.”
Name: Maliah Howard-Bass
High school: Columbus North
College: Ball State
Key stats: 7.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.4 apg in 15.7 minutes per game