Ball State women's basketball led Lipscomb by 14 in the second quarter, but with less than 30 seconds left in the fourth it was tied 74-74 as Lipscomb guard Loren Cagle dribbled down the court.

Cagle paused to let the clock wind down before starting the play. After a few passes, the ball found her again at the top of the 3-point arc. She dribbled right and dumped it off to junior guard Meredith Lovelady, who was standing a few feet behind the arc.

Lovelady threw up the open, deep 3-pointer for a 77-74 lead with 18 seconds left.

Game Statistics

Ball State shooting: 46.8 percent (29-62)

Lipscomb shooting: 47.9 percent (29-61)

Ball State 3-point shooting: 19.0 percent (4-21)

Lipscomb 3-point shooting: 39.1 percent (9-23)

Ball State rebounds: 28 (7 off., 21 def.)

Lipscomb rebounds: 41 (11 off., 30 def.)

The Cardinals missed the 3-pointer on their next possession, and the Bisons made one more free throw before the final buzzer sounded. Lipscomb's 78-74 victory was its first against a Division I opponent this season.

"We gave up a couple of those where our hands were down and it seemed like we were on our heels and didn't really understand the time and score," Ball State head coach Brady Sallee said. "But when it's on the [scouting report] it's not really difficult at all. But you've got to execute, you've got to do your job and they did their job better than we did ours."

Lipscomb (2-10) entered the game with an average rebounding margin of minus-10.6, but dominated the rebounding battle 41-28. It was an uncharacteristic performance from Ball State (6-4), which entered the game averaging 5.6 more rebounds than its opponents.

"Not only did we not win it, we got smoked on the boards," Sallee said. "And again, as you go through these pre-conference matchups you're trying to really figure out who you are and they really hurt us rebounding the ball.... That's definitely something we're disappointed about."

The Cardinals also hit just four of their 21 three-point attempts (19 percent) and 12 of 19 free-throw attempts (63.2 percent). But even with the long-range struggles they hit 46.8 percent of their shots, held a 46-20 advantage in the paint and had nine turnovers to Lipscomb's 18.

Individually, senior center Renee Bennett tied her career-high with 28 points and hauled in 11 rebounds. Sophomore point guard Carmen Grande also recorded a double-double with 10 points and 12 assists. Sophomore guard Destiny Washington added 13 more points off the bench on 6-9 shooting.

"We shouldn't have the offensive numbers we had and lose a game," Sallee said. "They put us in a position where they just exploited some matchups and they put the ball in their best players' hands a lot."

Cagle led the Bisons with a double-double of her own, scoring 19 with 11 assists. Lovelady scored 15, including three 3-pointers, and junior forward Loshaveon Jones scored 18.

"I felt like we were a step behind everything they were doing," Sallee said. "Whether it was them putting it on the floor, whether it was some of the action they were running, we were late doing it."

Lipscomb shot 47.5 percent from the floor and was 9-23 (39.1 percent) from beyond the arc. And although the Bisons committed twice as many fouls (25) as Cardinals (12), they were more efficient from the free-throw line after hitting 11 of 13 attempts (84.6 percent).

"They were the ones that came out and did it," Sallee said. "It would be easy for me to sit here and beat my team up, talk about how bad we were. But when you do that, you take away the credit away from the people that won the game."

Ball State's next game is at Western Kentucky (7-4), a team the Cardinals beat 74-60 last season. But the Lady Toppers aren't an ideal opponent for a bounce-back game—they beat Lipscomb by 52 points on Dec. 15 and led 56-2 at halftime.

"We'll have to go down there and be a heck of a lot better," Sallee said. "I mean that's probably the understatement of the century, but it'll be interesting to see what we do with it."

Tip-off at Western Kentucky is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 21.