CLEVELAND, Ohio - - Despite three players in double figures, the second-seeded Ball State women's basketball team saw its run at the 2013 Mid-American Conference Tournament title come to an end with a 70-61 loss to No. 3 seed Akron in semifinal action Friday afternoon at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.
With the loss, the Cardinals fall to 15-15 on the season and await a possible bid into the Postseason Women's National Invitation Tournament, with the field being announced late Monday (March 18) night.
Akron, which improves to 23-8 with the win, advances to face No. 4 seed Central Michigan (20-11) in Saturday's MAC Tournament Championship Game which will be played at 1 p.m. in Quicken Loans Arena. CMU upset top-seeded Toledo (27-3) by a score of 66-61 earlier Friday afternoon.
Sophomore guard Brittany Carter paced the Ball State offense by tying a season-high with 18 points, which included 4-of-6 shooting from behind the arc.
While the Ball State defense was able to hold MAC Player of the Year and the league's leading scorer Rachel Tecca to just seven points, the Zips' Hanna Luburgh stepped up with a career-high 33 points to help secure the victory.
Akron opened the game strong, building a 22-14 lead with 11:08 remaining in the half. Ball State answered back with an 11-5 run to come within four (27-23) at the 5:59 mark after baskets from Fontaine, Justice and junior guard Brandy Woody.
After that, the Zips went on a 13-2 run to take the 40-29 halftime advantage over the Cardinals.
Fontaine and Carter opened the second half with baskets to pull Ball State back to within six (40-34) at the 17:22 mark. Ball State, which only had seven players to start the game, got into foul trouble early in the second half. At the 11:34 mark of the second half Carter had four fouls, while both Woody and senior guard Shanee' Jackson had three.
Despite the foul trouble, the Cardinals continued to fight throughout the duration of the game to draw within two (59-57) at the 3:19 mark which was the closest Ball State had been since the first half after Justice knocked down a three.
Jackson would then make a pair of free throws to tie the game 59-59. Unfortunately, the Zips orchestrated a 7-0 run to take the 66-59 edge over the Cardinals with 51.4 second remaining and went on to win the game 70-61.