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Ohio guard Jaya McClure (0) after shooting the ball during a game against Ball State at The Convo, Feb. 17, 2024 in Athens.

Women’s Basketball: Ohio falls short against Ball State

Ohio (7-16 overall, 4-16 Mid-American Conference) played the best half of basketball of its season on Saturday against the MAC’s top team in Ball State (22-3 overall, 11-1 MAC). But it was not enough to slay the dragon of the MAC, falling short by a score of 75-60. 

It was a tale of two halves at The Convo on Saturday for the Bobcats, as it has been in a couple of games now. Ohio hung on with or outright led teams ahead of them in the MAC standings going into halftime, but it is a tough 3rd or 4th quarter that ultimately spells its downfall. 

The first half saw Ohio start fast, thanks to Kate Dennis, who opened the game’s scoring with back-to-back 3-pointers from the left wing and top of the key. 

Ball State was unable to answer Ohio’s fast-paced scoring in the first quarter, as the Cardinals shot just 13% from the field in the opening frame of action and relied heavily on free throws to keep in striking distance of the Bobcats. 

Junior guard Kennedi Watkins was a standout all day, but especially in the first quarter, leading all scorers with 8 points coming on an efficient 4-5 from the floor. 

Watkins found ways to score all game for Ohio, consistently getting the hoop by herself off the dribble or having her teammates find her in good positions to impact the game through scoring. 

“I think most of my points (came from) great passes,” said Watkins. “Being at the right spot at the right time and allowing my teammates to see me, and just being aggressive.” 

The second quarter followed similar trends from the first quarter for the two teams, as Ohio beat Ball State’s press with good ball movement that allowed it to get easy looks at the rim or behind the arc. 

That was especially true for Bailey Tabeling, a freshman guard with a quick release from deep. Tabeling had 8 of her 14 total points on the day in the second quarter, shooting 3-4 from the floor and 2-3 from 3-point range. 

Tabeling was also involved in the team’s great ball movement, delivering a beautiful pass to a cutting Bengisu Alper who finished the layup. 

A 10-2 Ball State run at the end of the half was the first time since the first quarter where Ball State was only trailing by single digits. 

The second half is where Ohio’s lead began to diminish, especially with the team sending Ball State to the line for 22 total free throws in the second half alone. The Cardinals converted on 18 of those attempts and were a total difference-maker when the Bobcats matched their pace from the floor on offense. 

The Bobcat defense was strong all day; it was the fouls that got them into trouble.

“We fouled too much,” said Ohio coach Bob Boldon. “I thought the team’s energy and effort was awesome, and I thought sometimes Ball State was just a little better offensively.” 

By the final buzzer, Ohio was outscored 44-20 in the second half, and the team’s stellar first half was not enough to hold off the MAC’s top team from coming back and picking up their 11th conference win. 


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