Competing against the Mid-American Conference leader Akron (20-4, 10-1 MAC) Ball State men’s basketball (15-9, 6-5 MAC) fell 65-63 on a last-second shot by Akron senior forward Isaiah Johnson Feb. 7.

“It is really unfortunate the way it ended for us,” head coach James Whitford said. “Really, two plays, transition defense at the very end that allowed Isaiah Johnson to get the layup. Then obviously with 2.3 seconds to go we didn’t have a timeout.”

With 16.6 seconds left in the game senior forward Franko House drove to the rim to give the Cardinals the 63-62 lead. On the ensuing Akron possession, Ball State lost Johnson on transition defense, which caused redshirt freshman Tahjai Teague to foul him. Johnson made one free throw to tie the game at 63.

Ball State stats:

Field goal percentage: 43.1

3-PT percentage: 36.0

Turnovers: 13

Leading scorer: Franko House - 18

Akron stats:

Field goal percentage: 42.6

3-PT percentage: 21.7

Turnovers: 9

Leading scorer: Isaiah Johnson - 20 

Not having a timeout to set up a play hurt the Cardinals.

On the next inbounds with 2.3 seconds left, Cardinals senior guard Ryan Weber was rushed and threw an arrant full-court pass out of bounds to give Akron the ball on their end of the court.

“The official threw the ball to Ryan much earlier than we wanted,” Whitford said. “That’s on me, we know the play, we know how to run it, but we don’t practice it enough because these situations don’t come up very often.”

The play was to get sophomore forward Trey Moses the ball near the top of the free throw line, but Moses could not get in position in time to receive Weber’s pass.

Johnson, a 6-feet-ten-inch 290-pound center and Akron’s best player, received the inbounds in the left corner and hit a jumper to game the Cardinals.

Though Whitford said the ending was unfortunate, Ball State did prove they could compete with the MAC's best.

“We have enough evidence in the book. It is another game that shows we can play with just about anyone,” Whitford said. “Being able to play this way consistently has been our challenge.”

With wins against teams like Buffalo and Eastern Michigan on the road, and a win against Central Michigan, Whitford knows his team can be atop the conference. But, with two losses to a 10-13 Bowling Green team and a 27-point thrashing against Buffalo at home, consistency could put Ball State in contention for a MAC championship.

“We are certainly more than capable of winning a game like this,” Whitford said. “I am really disappointed that we weren’t able to pull this one out.”

Along with the layup to give the Cardinals a 63-62 lead, House led Ball State with 18 points, four assists, and seven rebounds while his comrade that has started every game with him, redshirt sophomore Tayler Persons, finished with three points and five assists.

Senior guard Ryan Weber scored Ball State’s first six points of the night and finished with 16 points.

Ball State is in action Feb. 10 at Worthen Arena as they host the No. 2 team in the MAC West division, the 14-8 Ohio Bobcats. Tipoff is slated for 6:30 and the game is being broadcasted on the CBS Sports Network.