On Tuesday evening, Ball State looked for a win in Worthen Arena before the red and white embarked on their three-game road trip. However, the Cardinals welcomed Ohio to Muncie and after a matchup that required extra time, the Bobcats took the 84-79 victory.
Here are four takeaways from the game.
The Bobcats came out swinging
It did not take long for Ohio (13-10, 7-4 Mid-American Conference (MAC)) to get comfortable on Ball State’s home court as the visitors jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first three minutes of the contest.
During that time, the Cardinals (12-11, 4-7 MAC) turned the ball over four times – Junior Basheer Jihad had three turnovers in that stretch– and couldn’t get into a rhythm. Following that run, Ball State tried different ways to change the momentum, but every attempt fell short.
The rest of the first half was similar. However, the Cardinals battled their way back and trailed 24-16 at the 7:48 mark. Yet they could not get over the hump and went into the break trailing 36-27.
Part of the Cardinals’ early struggles came down to shooting. They finished the opening half 9-for-28 (32.1 percent) and 2-for-10 (20 percent) from deep. On the other hand, the Bobcats were able to find the basket as they finished 14-for-27 (51.9 percent). From 3-point range, the green and white went 4-for-12 (33.3 percent).
A resurgence in the second half
Similarly to Ohio’s start to the contest, the Cardinals opened the second half with success on offense. A 3-pointer by junior Jalin Anderson at the 17:54 mark brought the Cardinals to a two-point deficit.
However, the Bobcats responded and increased their lead to 43-37. In the following minutes, Ball State cut Ohio’s lead to a one-point deficit multiple times. At the 13:39 mark, the red and white found their first lead as successful free throws from Jihad put them up 47-46.
Yet once again, Ohio took the lead right back. The back-and-forth play continued as both contestants traded blows throughout the rest of the game.
The final two minutes of regulation did not alter
Just like the previous 38 minutes, the final two minutes of the second half were a platform for both teams to go at it. Multiple offensive rebounds from freshman Trent Middleton Jr. allowed the Cardinals to get second-chance looks.
Yet with 1:26 remaining, Jihad – who scored 13 points – fouled out of the game. With the forward being a key piece to Ball State’s offense, the crowd in Worthen Arena might have wondered who would step up.
In the end, the Cardinals had the ball with 7.8 seconds left in the game and a chance to steal the victory. While junior Jalin Anderson got a 3-point shot off, the ball banked off of the rim, forcing an extra period of basketball.
Ball State failed to convert in overtime
The battle between the Cardinals and the Bobcats continued as soon as the opening tip-off went to Ohio. Throughout the extra time, both contestants battled to the basket and both had similar results.
With 56 seconds remaining, redshirt junior Ben Hendriks sank a contested layup to give Ball State the 78-77 lead. Once again, Ohio responded and took the lead. A few moments later, Anderson was fouled on a 3-point shot. Yet he missed all three attempts, which were followed by a collective groan from the crowd.
After the Bobcats drained two free throws, the game was out of reach and fans headed for the exits. Anderson led Ball State with 22 points, followed by junior Mickey Pearson with 18 points. During the entire contest, the Cardinals only had four bench points. The Bobcats finished with 16.
Ball State will look for the win column when they face Texas State (9-14 3-8 Sun Belt Conference (SBC)) in the MAC-SBC Challenge. The game will be played on Saturday, Feb. 10, and will start at 5 p.m.
Contact Zach Carter with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on X@ZachCarter85.