Ball State drops second MAC game of season to Ohio

<p>Ball State redshirt freshman guard Anna Clephane passes the ball during the Cardinals' game against Butler Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, at John E. Worthen Arena. Ball State won 74-70. <strong>Paige Grider, DN</strong></p>

Ball State redshirt freshman guard Anna Clephane passes the ball during the Cardinals' game against Butler Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, at John E. Worthen Arena. Ball State won 74-70. Paige Grider, DN

It was an offensive showdown at the Convocation Center in Athens, Ohio. Both teams were able to put together solid scoring displays, but Ohio (10-6, 3-2 MAC) was better down the stretch and was able to hand Ball State Women’s Basketball (11-6, 3-2 MAC) its second Mid-American Conference loss of the season, 79-71.

Both teams were able to shoot the ball fairly efficiently throughout the game. In the first quarter, they each shot 50 percent from the field. However, the Bobcats forced the Cardinals to commit seven turnovers early, which gave them a slight advantage after the first frame, 24-21.

Ohio one-upped its performance in the first quarter and put up 25 points in the second while Ball State was only able to knock in 16, which gave the Bobcats a 49-37 lead heading into the halftime break.  

Junior guard Cece Hooks and redshirt sophomore guard Erica Johnson could not be stopped in the first half, as they continued to score buckets at will, carrying the offensive load for the Bobcats early on. Johnson had 16 in the half, and Hooks added 15. Hooks finished the contest with 25 points and seven rebounds, and Johnson had 21 points, 13 rebounds and five assists. 

Ohio finished the game shooting 47.6 percent from the field, and Ball State made 41.5 percent of its shots from the field. 

“I thought we did a pretty good job offensively. Even coming into the half, we had scored 37 points, but our problem was giving up 49,” head coach Brady Sallee said. “We are not going to win those games … and we flipped that in the second half and did a lot better with that part of it.”

Freshman guard Sydney Freeman led the way in scoring for the Cardinals with 13 points, and senior guard Arbrie Benson added a season-high 12 points.  

Early foul trouble daunted the Cardinals, as their usual most-played forwards, junior Oshlynn Brown, sophomore Blake Smith and freshman Annie Rauch, all found themselves in foul trouble, which made it hard for Ball State to have them on the floor consistently.

“[Foul trouble] was a big story of the game. It was hard playing through some of those calls. Refs have a tough job, and they see what they see and you just have to play through it,” Sallee said. “Those are adversities that you have to fight through all year long, and that’s just what comes with playing on the road.”

Ball State as a team committed 21 fouls compared to Ohio’s 16. The Cardinals struggled at times taking care of the ball, and the Bobcats took advantage of their mistakes, as they picked up 11 steals and turned Ball State’s 17 turnovers into 16 points. Where the Bobcats hurt the Cardinals most was fast-break points, as they got a lot of easy looks out on the break and were able to cash in 21 points in the open court. The Cardinals only capitalized on three fast break points. 

“When you turn the ball over and they’re going down getting a layup, the big difference was fast-break points,” Sallee said. “That’s usually not a stat that we fall behind in, but we did today.” 

Ball State continued to try and cut into the Ohio lead, but the Bobcats would not budge, as they continuously scored points when they needed to to keep their lead intact. 

“We dug ourselves a hole against a good team, but we kept fighting. This team showed a lot today with the answer after the game we played at Central Michigan,” Sallee said. “I asked for fight, and I thought we got it. We just needed a couple of little breaks when we were right there.” 

Ball State will return to action Wednesday back in Worthen Arena, as it takes on Buffalo. 

Contact Daric Clemens with comments at diclemens@bsu.edu or on Twitter @DaricClemens

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