Too little too late
The Cardinals were outscored by the Bobcats in three of the four quarters Saturday. Outscoring Ohio, 20-11, in the fourth quarter was enough to get it close but not enough to complete the comeback. Ball State saw production from senior guard Arbrie Benson, scoring 12 points off the bench. Benson had seven of those in the fourth quarter before heading to the bench with 1:10 remaining.
Benson’s 3-pointer with 3:34 left cut the Cardinals' deficit to just eight points, but three consecutive points by the Bobcats built the lead back up to double digits. Ball State then went on to only score four times in the final 3:34 of the game.
Bench play was key
If it wasn’t for the points off the bench, the Cardinals might have lost by more. Ball State outscored Ohio, 31-8, in terms of bench points. It was Benson and freshman forward Annie Rauch who led the bench in scoring. Rauch contributed 4-of-6 from the field, accounting for eight points, complemented by eight rebounds. Rauch fouled out with 2:21 to play.
Benson went 5-for-8 from the field including 2-for-4 from 3-point range. Saturday marked the first time she has been in double figures since her former season-high performance of 10 points at New Mexico. Benson’s 12-point performance rested only behind the 13-point performance by freshman guard Sydney Freeman.
Battle in the paint
While Saturday’s conference tilt wasn’t the game for a lot of 3-pointers to be made, the paint battle was a crucial one. The Bobcats outscored the Cardinals, 44-36, in points in the paint. Ohio might have had more, but Ball State committed 21 fouls on the afternoon, a majority of them coming from down low.
The Cardinals’ defense allowed the Bobcats to shoot 47.6 percent from the field. Ohio averages sixth in the conference in field-goal percentage at 40 percent.
The Cardinals were coming off of a trip to Central Michigan where they allowed the Chippewas to shoot 41 percent. Ball State shot the ball better than they did Wednesday, shooting 41.5 percent against the Bobcats compared to 32 percent against the Chippewas.
Off and running
In addition to its 44 points in the paint, Ohio scored 21 of its 79 points off of fast breaks. The Cardinals could not stop the ability of the Bobcats to run the floor. Compared to Ohio’s 21 points, Ball State only collected three points in transition. The Cardinals' season-high fast-break points is 27, and their season-low is just two points.
Ohio was able to slow down Ball State in transition and force it into running set offenses. The Cardinals, who usually can count on 3-point shooting, saw just five shots go down from deep. Freeman, who averages 34.2 percent from long range, shot just 14 percent against Ohio.