Teddy Cahill

The new year hasn't been kind to Ball State University.

Since the calendar flipped to 2010, the Cardinals' shots have had a habit of clanging off the rim, the backboard or getting smacked out of the way by defenders.

That pattern was no different Wednesday night at Central Michigan University, where Ball State dropped its third game in a row, 53-38. The loss drops the Cardinals to 6-8 and 0-2 in Mid-American Conference play for the first time since the 2006-07 season.

"Right now, our defense has been good but we have not been able to generate much offense," coach Billy Taylor said. "We got a lot of good looks at the basket tonight, we just have to step up and knock them down."

Ball State shot 24 percent from the field, the third consecutive time it failed to shoot 30 percent. The lone bright spot offensively was freshman guard Jauwan Scaife, who led the team with 12 points. But even Scaife struggled shooting the ball, making just three of his 14 shots.

"We had a pretty good offense going there before break, but things have hit a snag," Taylor said. "We have to get things straightened out and continue to compete and get easy opportunities on offense."

Taylor was happy about the shots Ball State took; it was simply unable to make them.

"Our confidence right now may be a little down, but we have to work through that as we are getting open looks, we just have to knock them down," Taylor said. "We got some open looks from the perimeter and we have to be able to convert those."

Forward Jarrod Jones grabbed 11 rebounds for the Cardinals, but again struggled offensively. During the losing streak, Jones has scored 15 total points, his season scoring average for the first 11 games.

Central Michigan opened a 21-3 lead to start the game, largely on 3-pointers from seniors Chris Kellerman, Jordan Bitzer and Robbie Harman. Kellerman finished with a game-high 14 points, while Harman and Bitzer each added 12.

"They hit some early shots and were able to get some confidence," Taylor said. "We dug ourselves in a big hole, but I was proud of our guys for fighting back into the game."

The Cardinals never led in the game, but their defense was able to hold the rest of the Chippewas in check. Central Michigan turned the ball over 19 times and Ball State had seven steals. However, the Chippewas were able to make the extra pass to find open shooters. The hosts made 16 field goals, and had assists on 10 of them.

Ball State, the defending MAC West champion, has already fallen two games behind Central Michigan, the preseason favorites.