MUNCIE, Ind. - The Miami University women's basketball team dropped its Mid-American Conference opener, 62-59, Thursday night at Worthen Arena in Muncie, Ind.
The RedHawks dropped to 8-6 overall, while the Cardinals improved to 4-10.
Miami had several chances to tie the game in the final 13 seconds. Coming out of a timeout, senior forward Kirsten Olowinski was blocked on her first shot from deep and hit the side of the backboard on another attempt from the corner after she grabbed her own rebound. Senior point guard Courtney Osborn, who had a team-high 17 points with five rebounds and three assists, heaved up a final shot from way downtown, but it didn't fall.
"Very disappointing loss to open up the MAC," MU coach Maria Fantanarosa said. "You have to give them credit, they outworked us, mainly on the boards. But they just outhustled us. When you let a team hang around, anyone can win. In MAC play you have to play 40 minutes."
The RedHawks, who trailed 60-59 with 1:12 to go, missed the front end of a 1-and-1 two times and gave up a key bucket in the lane on a miscommunication with 53.4 seconds remaining.
"We need to be more productive on offense with the little things like free throws," Fantanarosa said. "I thought we were OK getting to the free throw line, but I wanted that to be more aggressive."
There were 15 lead changes in the game and both teams were tied on 10 different occasions.
Miami was outrebounded 46-34, including 21-13 on the offensive glass, The team was also outscored 22-18 in the paint.
"I thought offensive rebounding would have been a key for us today," Fantanarosa said. "On the offensive end, they made a lot of adjustments. They crammed in on our post players, but we had open opportunities."
Olowinski tallied 13 points and a team-high 12 rebounds, recording her 35th career double-double, which tied Monica Niemann for the most in school history.
Junior guard Haley Robertson kept the RedHawks in the game, scoring a career-high 15 points on 4-of-8 shooting. She was 4-of-6 from beyond the arc.
"Haley Robertson had a solid game tonight and hit a lot of threes," Fantanarosa said.
Miami shot 35 percent from the field (21-of-60), while Ball State was 35.2 percent (19-of-54). The 'Hawks finished 8-of-23 from downtown compared to the Cardinals, who made 9-of-18.
BSU forward Nathalie Fontaine scored a team-high 17 points and added 10 rebounds. Brittany Carter had 15 points, while Brandy Woody chipped in seven points and seven assists.
The Cardinals snapped a four-game losing streak, while Miami fell for the first time in three games.
The RedHawks had to dig themselves out of a hole early in the first half, as they trailed 17-7 at the 13:48 mark. Miami, which was down 30-29 at the break, slowly but surely climbed back in the game thanks to solid outside shooting and a 7-of-7 showing at the charity stripe.
"We came back in that first half and got the game close, and we really wanted to break it out early (in the second half)," Osborn said. "But their scrappiness and our inability to box out sometimes really let them hang around."
The senior point guard got hot in the second half, scoring 14 of her 17 points after halftime.
Olowinski hit a layup that put the visitors up 59-56 with 4:34 to go, but Miami failed to score the rest of the way.
"We gave them a lot of confidence in the beginning," Fantanarosa said. "Our defense in the beginning of the game had to be more aggressive. There's no doubt whatever defense we're in, we have to make sure we are aggressive. In the first four minutes, they had eight offensive rebounds. That's not an exaggeration."
Next up, the RedHawks round out their seven-game road stretch at Western Michigan Sunday, Jan. 13 at 2 p.m.