Last night’s game between the Cardinals and Ohio continued to tell the story of Ball State’s season of highs and lows.
The Bobcats (11-6, 9-5 MAC) defeated Ball State (9-8, 7-6 MAC) 88-66 to hand the Cardinals their third-largest loss of the season. The loss also marked the second time this season that Ball State has lost three in a row, this streak coming after a five-game winning streak. Here are four takeaways from the loss:
Turnovers continue to pile up
In the last outing with the Bobcats on Jan. 13, despite racking up a season-high 35 turnovers, the Cardinals still managed to earn the win. This time around, the Cardinals weren’t as lucky. Ball State turned the ball over 22 total times, the third-highest of the season, as opposed to Ohio’s 10.
What may have hurt the Cardinals more, however, was Ohio’s ability to score off of those turnovers, with 29 points coming off of a steal or a mistake Ball State had made.
“Our very first turnover of the game,” head coach Brady Sallee said, “...was something we had talked about that we absolutely could not do.”
Turnovers have consistently hurt the Cardinals throughout the season, as they rank 249th in division one with 17.5 turnovers per game.
3-point shooting continues to be an issue:
Another statistic that has constantly tormented Ball State this year has been its inability to shoot well from the 3-point line. Last night was reminiscent of that, with the Cardinals having shot 4-21 from behind the arc, their second-lowest of the season at just 19 percent.
In contrast, the Bobcats made 17 three-pointers last night.
Overall, the Cardinals rank 233rd in division one in three-point shooting, indicating another major issue with the offense.
Skeens has her breakout performance:
Last night had some bright spots, one of which was junior transfer guard Ella Skeens’ performance off the Cardinals' bench.
Skeens played her fourth game of the season last night, and in 16 minutes of action, had a career-high 13 points to lead the team, including a perfect 5-5 from the free-throw line, tied her season-high with three rebounds, and added a steal.
“With the way the game was going and the way she played, she should have been our leading scorer,” Sallee said. “It's great for her, and hopefully, this can springboard her into getting a little bit more time out there, and maybe we can see some more of that.”
On the brink:
This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mid-American Conference tournament only has eight teams instead of the usual 12.
At the moment, Ball State is sitting right on the cut line in eighth place with seven games left and a three-game lead over ninth-place Toledo. Four of the games left on the schedule for the Cardinals feature teams in a position to compete for the regular-season championship, and Ball State will need to win five of their remaining games to ensure that Toledo is unable to tie for eighth place.
“We're not going to duck games or try to look at the standings and try to figure out ‘Well, if we make up this one, but don't make up that one,’” Sallee said. “Unfortunately, I think some of that's going on [in our league], it's just not going to go on with us.”
The Cardinals have another quick turnaround as they play Miami (Ohio) Saturday, their fourth game in seven days. Tip-off for that game is currently set for 1 p.m.
“We played a ton of games in a short amount of time, I get it. I understand why we were sluggish,” Sallee said. “But you're here to play ball, so we made the decision here in our program and our athletic department to play and try to make up these games we missed. We're gonna play and because you never know when they're gonna say you can't.”
Contact Evan Weaver with comments at email@example.com or on Twitter @evan_weaver7.