Ball State women’s basketball (14-5, 6-2 MAC) lost its first home game of the season Jan. 30 against Ohio University (17-3, 9-0 MAC) 68-67.

With 4.3 seconds left on the clock, senior Nathalie Fontaine inbounded the ball to junior Renee Bennett about halfway between the center circle and the 3-point arc.

Ball State points in paint: 30

Ohio points in paint: 18

Ball State turnovers: 25

Ohio turnovers: 14

Ball State points off turnovers: 17

Ohio points off turnover: 31

She quickly passed left to sophomore Moriah Monaco, who fought to find a tightly-covered Jill Morrison.

Morrison turned with no time to stop and heaved an off-balance 3-point shot. The ball banked off the glass, clanked off the rim and bounced away as the buzzer sounded.

Game over.

“You credit Ohio,” head coach Brady Sallee said. “The same exact situation happened at their end and they got open, got a shot and got fouled. Situation on our end, it didn’t happen. So, again, that’s where you shake their hands and you pat them on the back and say, ‘You earned it.’”

With just 5.4 seconds left in the game, the Cardinals led 67-65 as the Bobcats were set to inbound the ball from the baseline.

It took just 1.1 seconds for Ohio senior forward Lexie Baldwin to catch the pass and hit a layup to tie the game. After the officials called a foul on the shot, she sank a free throw to give Ohio a 1-point lead.

Sallee said it was one of the more exciting games he has coached.

“I don’t know if I would have rather watched it or coached in it, but it took a couple years off of my life,” he said.

Still, Sallee added, there were a lot of positives for the Cardinals.

“That’s what probably stings,” he said.

Ball State outrebounded the Bobcats by a wide margin, 42-25. Fontaine led the Cardinals with 12 boards and added 18 points, her 10th double-double this season.

Rebounding was a priority for Ball State, who lost its last matchup against Ohio 73-48 on Jan. 6.

“Before every game, we have keys we need to focus on and [rebounding is] up there every time,” Fontaine said. “I think this game especially. You know, they shoot a lot of [3-pointers] but they drive it too, so we’ve gotta take care of the things we can take care of.”

Ball State was also more efficient than Ohio, shooting 48.8 percent from the floor compared with the Bobcats’ 34.4 percent clip.

Sallee said turnovers, however, helped the Bobcats overcome their shooting woes.

“That’s what turnovers allow them, to shoot 34 percent and win,” he said. “I tell them all the time, fouls negate hustle. Well tonight, turnovers negate hustle.”

Ball State turned the ball over 25 times and only forced 14 Ohio turnovers.

Fouls and free throws were also influential in the game – each team totaled two technical fouls and combined for 47 fouls.

Sallee declined to comment on the officiating. He said he will focus on his team and the way it played. 

“Let’s say [Morrison] makes that last shot, let’s say it goes in and we win,” he said. “Does it mean we played any different? No. And that’s where our focus has to be, on how we play. The win and loss are the byproduct.”

Still, four different Cardinals scored at least 10 points – Fontaine, Morrison (18), Bennett (14) and sophomore forward Frannie Frazier (10) – against a Bobcats defense that leads the MAC in points allowed per game, field-goal percentage against and 3-point field-goal percentage against.

In the end, Sallee said it was a high-level basketball game played between two good teams.

“It’s a shame that anybody had to lose that one,” he said, “but that’s what the rules say has to happen.”

Ball State will play again on Feb. 2 at Worthen Arena against Akron (11-9, 5-4 MAC).