MUNCIE, Ind. - Central Michigan struggled from the floor and was unable to overcome a 18-point first half in losing its second consecutive Mid-American Conference contest Thursday night to Ball State, 68-61.
The Chippewas fall to 13-9 on the year and 7-2 in the MAC with the loss, while the Cardinals evened their record at 11-11 and stayed atop the MAC with an 8-1 record.
CMU shot just 23.3 percent (7-for-30) in the first 20 minutes of the game and were held to their lowest point total of any half in the first 20 minutes. Despite the 27-18 halftime deficit, the Chippewas were able to make a second half comeback that fell just short.
The Cardinals went up by as much as 15 on a layup by Nathalie Fontaine at the 14:45 mark, 39-24, but CMU began to chip away at the lead and ultimately pulled within three thanks to a 12-3 run.
Senior Brandie Baker sparked the run with a layup in the paint and after a offensive rebound and putback by sophomore Crystal Bradford, senior Jalisa Olive picked Brandy Wood's pocket at midcourt and went in for an easy layup to cut the deficit to single digits, 43-35.
After the under-eight media timeout, sophomore Jessica Green scored six-straight points to force a timeout by the Cardinals and Baker made a layup off an offensive rebound to bring CMU within three, 46-43. Unfortunately, it would be as close as the Maroon and Gold would get as the Cardinals responded with five-straight points to go back up eight, 51-43 and extended the lead back to double digits, 57-47, on another layup by Fontaine with 2:09 to play.
The Chippewas continued to attack the basket and extend the game by sending Ball State to the line, but the Cardinals knocked down 11-of-14 free throws in the final two minutes to clinch the win.
Green led the Chippewas with 15 points, while Baker scored 14 and pulled down nine rebounds. A pair of Chippewas finished with double-digit rebounding efforts as Bradford and senior Jessica Schroll each pulled down a game-high 12.
CMU finished the game shooting just 30.9 percent from the floor (25-for-81) and knocked down just 4-of-28 three-point attempts. The Chippewas did hold a 54-41 rebounding advantage over the Cardinals, pulling down a season-high 28 on the offensive glass.
The Chippewas will return home to McGuirk Arena Sunday at 2 p.m. to host Buffalo in their annual "Play 4 Kay" game. The game will be broadcast live on SportsTime Ohio.