The University of Akron led Ball State for more than 31 minutes during a Mid-American Conference men’s basketball game Saturday afternoon in Muncie, Ind.
But the Zips' offensive stagnation set the stage for the Cardinals to win 57-56 on a tap-in by Trey Moses with seven seconds to play.
Akron had two chances to pull out a victory in the waning moments, but Tyler Cheese's layup attempt was blocked by Moses with two seconds to play and Jimond Ivey missed a jumper at the buzzer. It was the second consecutive loss for the Zips (14-11, 6-6), who fell to 1-7 on the road.
UA forward Daniel Utomi led all scorers with 21 points and added six rebounds. Tayler Persons led the Cardinals (14-11, 5-7) with 15 points and had nine rebounds.
It was no offensive masterpiece or even an ugly paint-by-numbers effort for either team, but the Zips — who can ill afford many mistakes on offense — allowed an eight-point halftime lead (29-21) to slip away instead of building on it.
They succumbed to the same myriad problems that have plagued them all season, with the most costly being the lack of ball and player movement. As their lead evaporated in the second half, the Zips too often settled for long-range jump shots or 3-point attempts, and they finished 4-of-26 (16 percent) from deep for the game. Overall, UA connected on 19-of-63 shots (30 percent).
That poor shooting wasted another stellar defensive effort by the Zips, who held the Cardinals to 21-of-61 shooting (34 percent) overall and 3-of-17 (18 percent) on 3-pointers.
Faced with a lack of depth in the frontcourt, UA lost the rebounding battle 49-37, including 12-9 on the offensive glass.
George M. Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ByGeorgeThomas.