huntington, W.v. - Ronald Blackshear's 3-pointer with 2.5 seconds remaining in double overtime lifted Marshall (10-9, 3-5 in the Mid American Conference) to a 98-95 victory over Ball State (13-6, 6-2).
The Cardinals had a chance to tie, but a pass the length of the court sailed too high and time expired.
"I thought (the shot) was challenged," head coach Tim Buckley said about the game winner. "He just hit a big shot."
The Cardinals (13-7 overall, 6-3 MAC) were without senior guard Patrick "Petie" Jackson. Jackson joined the team following surgery Tuesday morning on a broken left ring finger but did not dress.
Because of Jackson's absence, Buckley told his team they needed to replace 18 points worth of offense.
"That's what he averages a game," Buckley said, "(plus) his leadership on the floor."
The Cardinals also played the final two minutes of the first overtime and all of the second overtime without Theron Smith. Smith fouled out with a team-high 26 points and 17 rebounds. It marked Smith's seventh double-double in eight games.
Ball State finished 20-of-26 from the free throw line, but missed two in the final 30 seconds of the first overtime.
"Once again free throw shooting hurt us," Buckley said. "I think we could have put the game away at Miami, and tonight as well."
Freshman Matt McCollum scored a season high 18 points, including a 3-pointer with five seconds remaining to send the game into the first overtime.
"We put ourselves in a position to keep playing by making plays down the stretch to tie it up," Buckley said.
McCollum had reached double figures one other time this year with 10 points in a 113-89 win against IPFW.
Junior Rob Robbins added 15 points off the bench in a season-high 23-minute performance. Robbins had played no more than six minutes in a MAC game this season.
He had totaled only 11 minutes in last six games. "He didn't catch me off guard," Marshall head coach Greg White said. "We told our guys he could shoot."
Ball State used a 13-4 run to erase a 28-20 Marshall lead in the first half.
The Cardinals were 2-14 from the field early in the first half but managed to overcome the slow start and trailed at the half 41-40.
"Anybody who saw the game had to love that action, because that was a heck of a game," White said. "In the last five games against Ball State we're 4-1, and I'm excited about that."
Ball State led 84-79 with 2:20 to play in the first overtime.
On Marshall's next possession Blackshear scored and was fouled by Smith, his fifth personal. Blackshear finished with a career-high 33 points.
The loss is Ball State's third straight against a MAC East opponent. Ball State returns to MAC West competition Saturday, against Eastern Michigan.
"We asked everybody to give a little more because Patrick was missing," Buckley said. "I thought they did that."