The Cardinals were 17.5 point underdogs to the Irish, which makes sense; Ball State was 4-4 entering the contest, with blowout losses at Oklahoma and OR, while Notre Dame had put together an impressive early season run that included a Maui Invitational title over Wichita State.
Persons scored 24 points, Tahjai Teague added 13 and Sean Sellers had 11 as Ball State knocked off a nationally ranked opponent for the first time since downing No. 4 UCLA 91-73 more than 16 years ago.
"I think the two games that we haven't played really in my eyes, I thought that Oklahoma, we were a disaster", Whitford said. The game marked the first time Ball State (5-4) beat a Top 25 opponent since it knocked off No. 4 UCLA on November 20, 2001.
After nearly defeating No. 1 UConn on December 3, the Fighting Irish (7-1) will be hungry for a win against the Quakers.
It was the fourth straight win for the Cardinals (5-4), with all four coming against in-state opponents.
Jessica Shepard continued her dominance toward Michigan State, recording a season-high-tying 19 points.
Ball State has shot better than 53 percent in each of the games after having its best shooting performance against a Division l team in 15 years, averaging 61.7 percent from the field in its 93-85 victory over Indiana State.
Any basket would have done, but Tayler Persons opted for the dramatic. The Fighting Irish were the highest-ranked opponent the Cardinals have played since they faced No. 1 IN on November 25, 2012.
The Cardinals led 67-58 with 6:45 to go, but the Irish charged all the way back to a 77-77 tie on Matt Farrell's 3-pointer with 20 seconds to go.
Ball State, meanwhile, relies on a deep bench to provide breaks for its starting lineup.
On December 9, Penn women's basketball is set to take on No. 3 Notre Dame, which may prove to be a hard matchup for the Quakers. Still, fatigue hasn't been an issue for the Fighting Irish, who have outscored opponents 346-248 in the second half this season.
Tuesday will be the first time Ball State plays a Top 25 opponent since December 20, 2014, when it faced No. 17 San Diego State.
Turnovers are a focus on both the defensive and offensive side of the ball. The sophomore guard has committed just seven turnovers all season.
The Cardinals are shooting 56.5 percent from the floor during their three-game winning streak. However, the Cardinals turned the ball over 49 times in that same stretch, so limiting turnovers will be a key against a Fighting Irish team that forces nine turnovers per game. Notre Dame was points away from upsetting the Huskies (7-0), a feat that has happened once in the three calendar years. "We have them here, and it makes practices more competitive".
Tip-off is at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Purcell Pavilion in South Bend, Indiana.
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