Cardinals split season series against Ohio with Wednesday night loss

<p>Cardinals junior forward Blake Smith shoots a shot while being defended Feb. 10, 2021, at John E. Worthen Arena. The Cardinals lost 88-66. <strong>Grace Walton, DN</strong></p>

Cardinals junior forward Blake Smith shoots a shot while being defended Feb. 10, 2021, at John E. Worthen Arena. The Cardinals lost 88-66. Grace Walton, DN

You play how you practice. 

That was the case for the Cardinals Wednesday night — but not in a positive way. 

Ball State (9-8, 7-6 MAC) lost 88-66 to Ohio (11-6, 9-5 MAC) in its annual “Think Pink” game. The Bobcats scored the opening basket to begin the game and never relinquished the lead through the final buzzer. 

“You know, we believe that you’re going to play the way you practice,” head coach Brady Sallee said. “Honestly, we practiced exactly the way we played, at least. You know, that group that played the first two and a half quarters.”

Bobcats’ senior guard CeCe Hooks led Ohio in scoring with 22 points. She went 6-for-14 from the field and netted a perfect 8-for-8 line from the charity stripe. With one minute and 53 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Hooks sinked a 3-pointer from the left wing to extend the lead to 67-40. With that bucket, she eclipsed the 2,000 point mark for her career. 

Against the Cardinals 2-3 zone, Ohio let it fly from beyond the arc. The Bobcats shot 17-for-43 from 3-point range, good enough for 39.5 percent. Sallee believes the Bobcats shot exceptionally, and the Cardinals’ defense did not bring enough energy and intensity to that end of the court in the first place. 

“We were a little bit sluggish, I think,” Sallee said. “I think that was pretty evident. Give [Ohio] credit for their ball movement, they were ready to go. There in the first half, I thought their ability to still get the ball into the paint was problematic.”

Junior guard Ella Skeens came off the bench in the second half and finished with a team-high 13 points in 16 minutes. This was her first game action Jan. 13, which happened to be Ball State’s last meeting against Ohio. 

Skeens was a part of the lineup that finished the game and outscored Ohio 22-14 in the fourth quarter. The five were Skeens, freshman guard Ivet Subirats, sophomore guard Estiel Puiggros, junior guard Krystal Rice and junior forward Blake Smith. Sallee was impressed with their competitiveness and effort despite what the scoreboard read and hopes the performance can catapult the team. 

“That group that ended the game was good,” Sallee said. “I thought they played well. We’ve got to hopefully build off that momentum a little bit.”

Other notable scoring performances came redshirt sophomore guard Anna Clephane (12 points) and sophomore forward Annie Rauch (10 points). Senior forward Oshlynn Brown rounded out the double-digit scoring with 10 points while also pulling down seven rebounds. 

Ball State committed 22 turnovers after just having tallied 23 in Monday’s loss to Northern Illinois. Sallee believes that sluggish play from the defensive side was apparent on offense from start to finish. 

“We were just sluggish on both ends,” Sallee said. “I’m not an excuse guy, you know, we had a game tonight, and our responsibility was to come out and compete and try to find a way to win. The effort wasn’t behind it.”

Ball State will hit the road for its next contest, Saturday, Feb. 13, against Miami (Ohio) (2-16, 1-13 MAC). Tipoff is 1 p.m. 

Contact Charleston Bowles with comments at clbowles@bsu.edu or on Twitter @cbowles01.

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