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Ohio University sophomore Madi Mace (3) defends against syracuse at the Convocation Center on Dec. 9, 2023.

Women’s Basketball: Ohio falls short in matchup against dominant Ball State

One game removed from its three-game win streak to even its Mid-American Conference record, Ohio (7-13, 4-6 MAC) took on the MAC’s biggest threat, Ball State (20-2, 10-0 MAC). The game ended in a relatively predictable 97-66 loss, in which Ball State rolled through Ohio with its combination of star power, depth and elite offensive movement.

From the beginning of the game, it seemed as though the Bobcats would struggle to keep up with the Cardinals. After freshman Laylay Fantroy scored the opening bucket, putting Ohio up 2-0, Ball State started to get to work. The Cardinals went on a 28-7 run before the Bobcats could finally cross the double-digit point mark with 7 minutes, 13 seconds left in the second quarter.

Fantroy’s performance was a sparse bright spot for Ohio, as she got her very first career start and scored a team- and career-high 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the floor. Fantroy also filled out the stat sheet around her scoring, logging a team-high in rebounds and tying a team-high in assists, with seven and three, respectively.

Fantroy’s story leading up to this game has been a story for the Bobcats in and of itself. Starting the season as a toolsy defender who could bring the ball up the court, she’s taken on a primary ball-handler role with the lack of depth Ohio is currently facing due to injuries.

However, the Bobcats struggled to find help around Fantroy, with off nights from the field from several other key contributors. Ball State’s depth, on the other hand, proved to be one of the game’s determining factors, as all but two of the 14 Cardinals to touch the floor contributed points, with five of them crossing the double-digit scoring mark.

For Ball State, it was Estel Puiggros who led the way offensively, notching 18 points and six assists in 19 minutes off the bench. Puiggros’ shooting jumped out in Ball State’s movement offense, which was a mesmerizing display of passing and cutting.

Additionally, the Cardinals were able to speed up the depleted Bobcats’ offense beyond their typical pace, doubling up the away team in steals. Turnovers have been a season-long issue for Ohio, which averages tied for the 14th-most turnovers in the NCAA with 20.2 per game. 

Ball State’s dominance throughout the MAC has been a spectacle to watch, staying undefeated against Ohio and improving to 10-0.  The Cardinals’ only losses on the season have come from Notre Dame and UConn, both high-major teams ranking in the top 20 in the country at the time of the games.

It’s a predictable loss for the Bobcats, as they embark on their toughest stretch of conference play. Following its final nonconference matchup against Texas State, Ohio will face off against Ball State once more, followed by Kent State and Buffalo.

Over the remainder of the season, the Bobcats will look to stay in MAC tournament contention by winning the easier games toward the end of the schedule while regaining the depth that they have seemed to be losing game-by-game.


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