Women’s Basketball: Ohio finds no rhythm in 79-63 loss to Ball State

The Ohio Bobcats (8-8, 3-2 MAC) women’s basketball team was the polar opposite of its opponents, the Ball State Cardinals (8-8, 3-2 MAC), on Saturday afternoon at the Convocation Center. Ball State found offensive rhythm from the tipoff, while Ohio struggled to put points on the board from the onset. The result? A 79-63 defeat; the first time the ‘Cats have lost at home this season.

Freshman guard Quiera Lampkins, who converted on 7 of 10 attempts from the free throw line, ended the game with 19 points and six rebounds for the Green & White. Ball State reserve guard Jill Morrison shot a lights-out 5 of 6 from three, tallying 19 points and four assists in the process.

The short-handed ‘Cats, who were without offensive sparkplug Mariah Byard, senior Olivia McCuskey and freshman Jasmine Weatherspoon, were abused by the sharp-shooting Cardinals early and often. Constant and consistent ball movement resulted in Ball State making good on their first six attempts of the contest.

“I don’t think the way they came out shooting affected the way we shot, I just think we need to make shots whether we’re up or down,” sophomore guard Kiyanna Black said.

Jumping on Ohio early, 22-10, behind a pass-happy charge, Ball State dominated the Green & White in the restricted area and from beyond the arc. A well-disciplined Cardinal team assisted on 12 of their 15 first-half makes, which was good for an impressive 80 percent. High-arching passes from the Cardinals were frequent in the Convo, with Ball State taking advantage of Ohio’s lack of height.

“We probably need to pressure the ball better, we probably need to communicate our switch better, we probably need to deny reversal better, we probably need to get to help side better, we probably need to rotate down better,” Ohio head coach Bob Boldon said. “We probably need to do a better at talking to each other so that we can get people guarded.”

Trailing 33-18 with 7:20 remaining in the first half, Ohio was able to cut the Ball State lead to nine behind a physically driven 10-4 run over a span of just over three minutes. But the Cardinals’ three-point successes drove Ball State to a 42-28 advantage heading into halftime. A 7 of 11 (63.6 percent) mark from beyond the arc exposed the tired legs of the seven of nine active Ohio players who saw double-digit minutes on the court.

“We just weren’t getting on their shooters, especially (Morrison),” Lampkins said. “We knew she was a three-point shooter and that’s all she could do, so it just comes down to our defense.”

This trend continued for the Cardinals in the second half, and Ohio just was not able to match the efficient long-range looks that the Cardinals were finding. Black, by far the highest-volume three-point shooter on the Bobcats, did not find her stroke at any point during the game, making good on only five of her 16 looks from beyond the arc. Not having Byard, a 35.4 percent three-point shooter, as a compliment to Black on Saturday.

Ball State’s steady three-point barrage, backed by guards Brandy Woody, Brittany Carter and Morrison, resulted in a 72.2 percentage from beyond the arc. This continuation of excellent long-range play in the second half kept Ohio from staging any sort of comeback past the first two minutes of the final frame. The Bobcats did open up the second half with a 7-2 run, brining the score to 44-35, but tempo in the offense and discipline on defense lacked over the next 18 minutes of play.

“We had a hard time getting people in the right spots,” Boldon said. “I thought Ball State did an excellent job at helping on our drives.”

Ohio only converted five field goals the rest of the way, which, in the end, resulted in a team effort of 37.7 percent from the field. A big reason for the lack of offensive production were the 20 turnovers that the ‘Cats committed on the day. Entering this game, Ohio had only turned over the ball a total 31 times in four conference games.

“What we have to do is look at the tape and find out what we can try to fix,” Boldon said. “The comfortable thing is that no matter what we work on, it’s needed.”

The Bobcats will have the opportunity and time to do what Boldon has planned, as their next MAC contest is set for Thursday, Jan. 23 against the Akron Zips (8-8, 2-3 MAC). The game will take place in Akron with tipoff set for 7 p.m.

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