Ball State (11-9, 2-5 MAC) dropped its second game to Ohio (11-8, 3-4 MAC) of the season Saturday. In the teams’ first matchup, the Bobcats took control early and never looked back, cruising to an 18-point victory. The second time around was different. Here’s a look at what stood out.

Barn burner

As mentioned before, the outcome of game one between the Cardinals and Bobcats in Muncie was never in question. Saturday’s contest in Athens, Ohio, was the definition of a back-and-forth battle. The game was tied on six different occasions, and the lead changed hands 23 times.

Ohio’s Gavin Block hit three 3-pointers late in the second half – all of which gave the Bobcats the lead. Perhaps the most important one was his third with 22 seconds left that proved to be the game-winner.

Of the Cardinals’ nine losses this season, six have been decided by single digits. In this stretch where the Cardinals have lost five of their last six, in four of the five losses – disregarding the 18-point difference against Ohio – Ball State has lost by a total of 13 points.

Dialing long range

Despite Block’s 3-point prowess, the Bobcats only shot 29 percent as a team from deep. 

The Cardinals seemed to snap their recent slump from beyond the arc as they shot 56 percent. In their last four games prior to Saturday, the Cardinals made 12 of their 54 attempts from downtown. They lost three out of those four games. Ball State went 10 of 18 Saturday, and while it didn’t win, a four-point loss is certainly improvement from 18 the last time these teams met in which the Cardinals only made one triple.

Carter takes over

Jason Carter, Ohio’s leading scorer at 16.3 points per game, did not score in the first half Saturday. He must have flipped a switch in the locker room at halftime because he went on a tear to start the second half.

Carter scored 12 points in the first four minutes to give the Bobcats the lead after trailing by seven at the half. He went on to lead the team with 16 points. That second-half spark was just what Ohio needed to get back into the game. 

Divvy it up

Seven Cardinals found their name in the scoring column Saturday. All seven tallied at least eight points, and none of the seven shot below 33 percent from the field. 

Redshirt senior guard Tayler Persons led the team with 21 points, but no one else was able to score more than 10. If the Cardinals can get this type of production – high volume and efficient – from their bench to complement the starters, they could turn these Ls into Ws soon. 

Surprises: sweet and sour

The sweet: Redshirt junior guard Josh Thompson scored eight points in just 12 minutes of action. He only shot the ball three times, but he made all of them including a pair of 3-pointers. As a player who only averages three points a game, Thompson’s performance had to be a pleasant surprise for the Cardinals.

The sour: Senior guard Austin Nehls started in place of redshirt junior guard K.J. Walton. Nothing seemed to be wrong with Walton. In fact, he played eight more minutes than Nehls when it was all said and done. Head coach James Whitford said changes needed to be made, but this change might have backfired on him. Nehls finished the game scoreless, and Walton was not his overly-efficient self, going 3 for 8 from the field.

Contact Zach Piatt with any comments at zapiatt@bsu.edu or on Twitter @zachpiatt13.