Conor Hockett

Tensions spilled over in Worthen Arena on Saturday as Ohio and Ball State battled for Mid-American Conference position.

While Ohio eventually won by a score of 61-60, the game didn't end without a  by both teams on the court.

With 11:23 left in the second half, a brawl almost broke out between the two teams.

After a loose ball, Ball State's Matt Kamieniecki and Ohio's DeVaughn Washington started jawing and got tangled up.

More players joined the fray, and it escalated from there. Both benches cleared as players and coaches tried to restrain each other.

Pushing and shoving went on for about two minutes before the referees gained control of the situation.

Double technical fouls were called on Kamieniecki and Washington before play resumed.

Ball State coach Billy Taylor said he and the players didn't have specific comments on the altercation; it was just heat of the moment emotions.

The action remained heated on the floor. Chippy, physical play dominated the rest of the game.

Play went back-and-forth for the last 11 minutes. The two teams exchanged leads three times, and no team held more than a four-point advantage.

Ohio seized every opportunity to knock off the MAC's best and eventually wore Ball State down.

Seemingly every turnover, missed free throw or bad possession by the Cardinals turned into Bobcat points.

This was especially true from the free throw line.

Ohio came into the game shooting 69.3 percent from the line. They hit 19-21 (90.5 percent) Saturday.

The Bobcat's consistent approach and timely scoring was too much.

A last second 3-pointer by Randy Davis went in, but only cut the deficit to one point until the clock finally ran out. 

"We've got to be a lot sharper with our execution," Taylor said. "Whether it's OB under [out of bounds] situations or half-court sets—we can't turn the ball over late in the game. We have to be able to get the ball where it needs to go at the right time."

The game nearly got away from Ball State early in the second half as well. Malik Perry picked up his fourth foul at the 18:43 mark and Ohio stretched its lead to nine points two minutes later.

That's when Taylor decided to play small ball.

A lineup of Jarrod Jones, Chris Bond, Randy Davis, Tyrae Robinson and Jesse Berry took the Cardinals on a 12-0 run over the next three minutes.

It culminated with Berry's 3-pointer to give Ball State a 47-44 lead. Ohio called a timeout and the 3,976 Worthen Arena fans erupted.

"We were searching for a combination that was going to have some success out there," Taylor said. "That group started to click. Jarrod and Chris did a great job cleaning up the glass during that time. We were able to get out and run and use that speed."

After the stretch, Ball State went back to what it does best; pound it inside.

Jones was unstoppable once he got the ball in the paint and punished Ohio time and time again. His 21 points and seven rebounds were both team highs.

"Some of the shots he made, and those first couple to start the second half that kind of got him going, we let him get too deep," Ohio coach John Groce said. "After that I felt like we did a pretty good job staying between him and the basket. He made a couple that were like 10 to 12-foot jump hooks that you typically don't see over guys with no angle. He's a load down there."

It wasn't enough.

The Bobcats handed the Cardinals their third straight loss; their second consecutive defeat in MAC play.

Ball State is now 13-7 and 5-2 in the conference. They are tied with two other teams, but still sit atop the entire MAC.

Taylor was quick to express that to his team.

"We have a quick turnaround with two days until we play Miami," Taylor said. "And when it's all set and done, we're still on top of the MAC. So we don't want to get too consumed with the three straight losses, but get back to playing good Ball State basketball."