Poor passing. Poor court awareness. Bad shot selection. Miscommunications.
“What are you doing? What are you doing?” rang on the court and could be heard through the broadcast.
Head Coach Michael Lewis was at a loss for words on the sideline in Athens, Ohio.
In what was a physical game, which is synonymous with Mid-American Conference (MAC) play, Ball State (11-5, 2-1 MAC) fell to Ohio (9-7, 1-2 MAC).
This loss snapped a seven-game winning streak for the Cardinals that started on Dec. 7 with a win over Eastern Illinois. For Lewis, the streak wasn’t about the wins. It was about the learning process.
“It's not the winning streak, we were consistently getting better with each time out,” he said. “Winning is simply a byproduct of doing all the things that it takes to compete at a high level well. The preparation, the willingness to practice, the film and the personnel study.”
Basketball is known as a game of runs, and it was on full display tonight. Both teams traded scoring runs throughout the game, as well as long-term scoring droughts. Early in the first half, the Cardinals went on an 18-0 run, which the Bobcats answered with a 13-2 run of their own to close the half.
Lewis believes the downfall was a result of a lack of preparation and dedication. Ball State didn’t execute on the scouting report well, allowing a known southpaw in Ohio guard Jaylin Hunter to consistently drive left, resulting in him scoring a game-high 23 points.
“The attention to detail that it takes to compete day in and day out is difficult. That's why only 1% of the players in the world played division one basketball, that's why only 1% of those guys go on and play for real money. This is not easy, and it takes that type of dedication to doing all the things that it takes to add up to winning. We fell short of that tonight.” he said.
Ball State recorded a season-high 22 turnovers tonight, including a few shot clock violations. This is likely due to the Cardinals missing their point guard Demarius Jacobs, who exited the game late in the first half with an apparent injury.
“If you've watched us play at all you know [Jacobs] is a huge part of what we do here. He takes care of the ball and initiates offense, he's one of the guys that we go to at the end of games,” he said. “He's just kind of great at getting downhill and he's our best perimeter defender, but that's not why we lost.”
After Ohio took a 12-point lead, Ball State continued to fight to stay in the game, however, some late-game mental errors made hopes of winning go away.
“I was shocked, quite honestly, because I thought we would really execute better in some of those [late game situations] as we've gone on and competed better here as of late,” he said. “You just gotta keep throwing guys in the fire and they gotta be able to handle it and adjust and make better decisions and we got to do a better job of coaching them through those.”
The Cardinals continue MAC play this Saturday, Jan. 14 as they take on Miami (OH) (7-9, 1-2 MAC) in Worthen Arena.