Winning on the road continues to be a major category ripe for improvement and remains non-existent this season.

Ball State had an extra few days of rest and preparation for its game versus Mid-American Conference opponent Akron Saturday night, but the outcome was more of the same; a 78-65 defeat.

Coach Kelly Packard said rebounding would be the deciding factor in the game, but her team fell short 39 to 33 in that category.

"The position to rebound and a lot of the frustration came from not being able to pull defensive boards and giving them extra opportunities and extra possessions," Packard said. "More than anything when you're on the road, you've got to be able to rebound the ball both offensively and defensively."

Senior guard Ty'Ronda Benning knocked down the first bucket of the game, giving the Cardinals the lead, but they never led after the opening possession.

Ball State struggled to maintain the perimeter defensively and Akron sophomore guard Taylor Ruper took full advantage of the soft coverage.

At one point, Ruper scored three consecutive three-point jumpers to lead the Zips to a 41-28-halftime advantage, scoring 20 points, including six three-pointers.

"We didn't locate and have enough urgency in the first half on their shooting guard," Packard said. "We usually go in to a sniper mode, which is a no-catch mode, and we took far too long to calculate that.

"That's unacceptable to have that lack of urgency on somebody who is clearly catch and shoot. You've got to at least be able to adjust and make her put the ball on the floor."

Benning's jumper with 9:44 left in the second half put Ball State within six, but Ruper and the Zips answered with an 18-to-5 run, capping the game.

Benning finished the game with 12 points, while fellow senior and captain Emily Maggert tallied a team-leading 16 points after notching just three in her previous outing.

Senior guard Ebony Jackson 12 points off the bench, drawing the attention of her coach.

"Ebony Jackson has really stepped up to become more of a verbal, vocal force and leader," Packard said. "We've really struggled with quietness in leadership."

Time is running out for Ball State (9-15, 4-5) in the 2010-11 season. Just five conference games stand between the Cardinals and a possible berth in the MAC Tournament, including trips to both Central and Western Michigan.

"Trying to keep them hungry and passionate is the biggest thing in the next few weeks," Packard said.