Ohio (3-16, 1-6 Mid-American Conference) took on Ball State, who is tied for first in the conference standings, Saturday. Although Ohio lost its second-straight game, the team is growing closer and building a group that can be successful in the years to come.
Right from the tip-off, both teams played with an quick pace and took many shots from behind the 3-point line. After Ohio took a quick 5-0 lead, Ball State implemented a full-court press. Ohio responded by making quick substitutions that resulted in putting its best three ball handlers on the floor in sophomore Yaya Felder, freshman Jaya McClure and junior Kailah Johnson. Quickly getting out of the press, Ball State kept up the quick pace offensively, going on a 13-0 run to create a 25-16 separation at the end of the first quarter.
Ball State (17-4, 6-1 MAC) continued to thrive on offense, as it opened up the second quarter with an 8-0 scoring run. Ohio didn't go down without a fight and responded by going on a 11-0 run off of a balanced attack on its own. Ohio wasn't afraid to go into the bench early, as 11 players played in the first half. Compared to the beginning of the season, many of Ohio's players were comfortable on the floor and found their individual roles against a tough Ball State team.
Ball State maintained its lead at the end of the first half off of 14 points forced off of turnovers and six fast break points, leading 44-34. Ohio was once again led offensively in the first half by Felder, who had 15 points.
At the start of the third quarter, hot shooting from Ball State and missed opportunities from Ohio lengthened Ball State's lead. Accompany that with a Felder injury, the lead grew to 17 at the end of the third quarter.
In the fourth, both teams struggled to score, as the game went scoreless for three minutes. The Bobcats attempt at a comeback was diminished as a stifling Cardinals defense kept their lead securely intact. It was a tough loss for a Bobcat team who seemed as comfortable as ever on the floor together.
"I think they've done an amazing job sticking together as a team through a lot of tough times," head coach Bob Boldon said. "Obviously it's hard, but that has never stopped them from coming in and working. We've had some injuries and those injuries affect everyone, those are their friends."
Ohio has had bad luck on and off the floor, but has not changed the way the team prepares for the game. This team is closer than ever and are sticking together as a team through the difficult times they have had this season.