The Ball State women’s basketball team dropped its season opener in Charlotte, N.C., 72-66, marking the ninth straight season-opening loss for the Cardinals.

Trailing by 18 with 5:13 left in the game, the Cardinals pulled within four points of the 49ers, 68-64 after sophomore Moriah Monaco’s 3-point shot capped a 16-4 run with 22 seconds left.

Junior 49er Ciara Gregory iced the game by sinking four free throws in the final 20 seconds to hold onto the lead.

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Nov. 19 vs. Western Kentucky

Nov. 23 vs. Austin Peay

Nov. 27, 28 at Colorado vs. Florida and Colorado/UMass

Monaco led Ball State with 18 points scored, 12 of which came from beyond the arc. Junior Jill Morrison scored nine points during the fourth-quarter run and finished with 14, tied for second on the team. Six-foot-5 Renee Bennett scored 10 points and came up one rebound shy of a double-double.

Bennett's nine rebounds led the Cardinals, and overall the team's 40 rebounds were one short of the 49ers’ total. 

One area where Ball State excelled was in the paint, outscoring Charlotte 30-8.

The 49ers converted 83.3 percent of their 24 free-throw attempts while the Cardinals had a 66.7 percent performance.  

With 7:03 left in the third quarter, Ball State led 36-33, but Charlotte went on a 25-4 run that continued into the fourth on the way to a victory.

Gregory was a perfect from the charity stripe and led both teams with 27 points.

Cardinal senior Nathalie Fontaine scored 14 points for Ball State, but her 37.5 percent shooting percentage fell short of last season’s 49.3 percent clip. 

Ball State has not won a season opener since its 62-58 road win against Michigan in 2006 and will have to wait until 2016 to end the streak.