Coming into the Jan. 30 match-up at Worthen Arena, both Ball State and Akron sat in second place in each division of the Mid-American Conference. Akron's shooting attack led the Zips to a 73-65 victory over the Cardinals.

Akron shot 52 percent from the field and 41 percent from beyond the 3-point line. The Zips took advantage of what the previous five opponents have against the Cardinals: forcing turnovers. 

In the past 120 minutes, the Cardinals have accumulated 62 turnovers.

“[Akron's] depth of size and talent overwhelmed us on the defensive end. We turned the ball over too much for the third game in a row,” head coach James Whitford said. “We did not defend to the level we need to defend to beat a team like Akron.”

Ball State gave up 13 second-chance points to Akron and struggled defending the paint. Junior center Isaiah Johnson had 13 points from inside the 3-point line for Akron. 

The final score didn't tell the entire story for the Cardinals, as Ball State was able to bring the game within three, 56-53.

From that point on, Johnson used his size to lead the Zips to an eventual victory.

“We couldn’t really front [Johnson], and he got like four buckets in a row to start their run,” sophomore Jeremie Tyler said. “In practice, we play harder than we play in the games; … that’s why they beat us, really.”

Tyler led the way for the Cardinals with 18 points and four assists. Behind him was senior forward Bo Calhoun, who added 15 points and eight rebounds.

The Cardinals' offense was working throughout the game as Ball State shot 51 percent from the field and 48 percent from 3-point range. Akron was able to outscore Ball State in the paint 26-22.

In the past four games, the Cardinals have been outscored 144-96 in points in the paint.

“We were soft on the inside in this game. … We were just soft,” Whitford said.

Graduate transfer senior Nate Wells played five minutes against the Zips, and Whitford admitted that he should have played his big man more for defensive purposes.

Defense has been Ball State’s forte all season, and it remains a philosophy of coach Whitford every game.

"We have not defended to the level we are capable of," Whitford said. "I don’t have all the answers right now, but I need find them so we can get back to being the defensive team I know we are capable of being.”

After the defeat, Ball State falls to 13-8 and 4-4 in the MAC. The team's next test will be on the road Feb. 2.