MUNCIE, Ind. — The Bobcats did break new ground on Saturday.
Unfortunately for Ohio, it wasn’t the kind they were hoping for.
For the first time in Mid-American Conference play, Ohio wasn’t in the game going down the stretch and fell 65-54 to Ball State inside Worthen Arena.
It was the fourth straight loss for Ohio (10-12, 2-7 MAC), and the team’s worst offensive game of the conference season. Ball State (12-9, 5-3 MAC) was the aggressor, pushed the Bobcats around on the defensive end, and hounded Ohio into a 35.6 percent shooting (21 of 59) shooting effort.
“They were physical with us, pushed us off of screens and got into us,” said Ohio head coach Jeff Boals. “We were stagnant, but they had a lot to do with that.”
Ball State snapped a two-game slide of its own, and improved to 4-0 at home in conference play. The loss was Ohio’s first in Muncie since 2009, and snapped a string of seven straight for the Bobcats at Worthen.
Senior forward Tahjai Teague had 24 points and eight rebounds to lead the Cardinals, who weren’t great offensively either. Ball State shot just 38.6 percent overall and 24.1 percent from 3-point range, but Teague and redshirt freshman guard Jarron Coleman (10 points, nine rebounds) and senior forward Kyle Mallers (10 points) gave BSU just enough offense.
Sophomore forward Ben Vander Plas had 12 points and nine rebounds to lead Ohio. Freshman guard Lunden McDay hit double figures in a third straight game with 11 points.
Ohio will have a mid-week bye on Tuesday, and returns to action next Saturday with a home game against rival Miami.
Here are the biggest takeaways from game No. 22 for Ohio.
Dartis ties the made 3s record
Jordan Dartis bagged career 3-pointer No. 290 on a quick shot from the left corner early in the second half. It placed him in a tie with Nick Kellogg (2011-14) for the top spot in the record book.
But it was a brief respite on a tough afternoon for the senior guard. He finished just 1 of 7 from the field and 1 of 5 from 3-point range. Dartis is now just 10 of 44 from 3 in his last six games.
Dartis is ready to quit talking about the record.
“I can’t say I’m dealing with it, but I just want to get it over with so we can stop talking about it. That’s really it,” Dartis said. “When it happens, I’ll definitely be grateful about it but I’m more worried about winning games right now.
“I’d rather go 0-for-10 with win than 10-for-16 with a loss.”
Dartis’ day was emblematic of Ohio’s shooting day. The Bobcats hit just 5 of 28 from 3-point range (17.9 percent). OU settled for 3s too often in the first half, and had a handful of open looks simply pop out of the bucket.
Vander Plas, for example, missed all seven of his 3-point attempts.
"We knew going in we’d have to screen and move, and I didn’t think we did a great job of that,” Boals said.
Lack of fight
Ohio, in general, played hard, but didn’t have the same kind of edge it needed at both ends of the floor.
To put it another way, for the first time in conference play the Bobcats’ compete-level was not up to par.
“It was disappointing. Coach called it out. We weren’t competing as hard as we could. You could see it from the score,” McDay said.
Two numbers summed up the issue. Ohio was called for just four personal fouls in the first half. OU had just six offensive rebounds despite missing 38 shots.
“It was disappointing, just from an effort standpoint,” Boals said. “This was the first time in a while that we didn’t compete.”
Not only did Ohio not lead at any point, the Bobcats also did not trail by less than 10 points at any point over the final 29 minutes of the game.
"As a collective group, we didn’t fight like we could, like we should," Dartis said. "Go back to the drawing board and get better."
Sophomore Jason Preston finished with nine points, four rebounds and five assists. But he also had six turnovers, missed 8 of 11 shots and in general looked like a shadow of the player that the Bobcats have seen most of the season.
Boals said he wasn’t aware of any illness or physical ailments that may have slowed Preston. Boals did sub out Preston twice — a first here in 2020 — and gave backup Miles Brown 20 minutes on the floor. It was an effort kick-start the Bobcats.
Preston finished with 32+ minutes of game time, a season-low for him in conference play, and it was the first time in four games that Preston didn’t play a full 40 minutes.
“He had some turnovers there early that were unforced, were not what he’s normally been doing,” Boals explained. “We put Miles in there to try to give us a spark, maybe change the offense up.
“But if you look at Jason’s game, he’s been great for us. He’s due for a bad game every now and then, but we’re not good enough to overcome him and Ben having bad games together."
Ball State 65, Ohio 54
Ball State ;31;34;—;65
OHIO 54 (10-12, 2-7 MAC)
Ben Vander Plas 5 2-3 12, Sylvester Ogbonda 1 0-0 2, Jason Preston 3 3-3 9, Lunden McDay 5 0-0 11, Jordan Dartis 1 2-3 5, Nate Springs 2 0-0 6, Ben Roderick 2 0-0 5, Miles Brown 1 0-0 2, Nolan Foster 1 0-0 2; TOTALS 21 7-9 54; 3-point goals — 5-28 (Springs 2-4, McDay 1-3, Dartis 1-5, Roderick 1-5, Preston 0-2, Brown 0-2, Vander Plas 0-7).
BALL STATE 65 (12-9, 5-3 MAC)
Kyle Mallers 4 0-0 10, Tahjai Teague 10 2-2 24, Luke Bumbalough 2 0-0 4, Ishmael El-Amin 3 0-0 9, Jarron Coleman 2 6-7 10, Josh Thompson 1 4-4 6, Brachen Hazen 0 2-2 2, Kani Acree 0 0-0 0; TOTALS 22 14-15 65; 3-point goals — 7-29 (El-Amin 3-9, Teague 2-3, Mallers 2-7, Hazen 0-1, Thompson 0-2, Acree 0-3, Bumbalough 0-4).
TEAM STATISTICS/INDIVIDUAL LEADERS
Field goals — Ohio 21-59 (.356), 3-point goals 5-28 (.179); Ball St. 22-57 (.386), 3-point goals 7-29 (.241); Free throws — Ohio 7-9 (.778), BSU 14-15 (.933); Rebounds — Ohio 37/6 offensive (Vander Plas 9), BSU 35/4 offensive (Coleman 9); Assists — Ohio 8 (Preston 5), BSU 10 (El-Amin 4); Steals — Ohio 6 (Brown 3), BSU 8 (El-Amin 3); Blocks — Ohio 3, BSU 3; Turnovers — Ohio 15, BSU 9; Personal fouls — Ohio 14, BSU 11; Attendance — 5,238; Technical fouls — none.