It didn't take long to realize Ball State University didn't arrive in Toledo on Valentine's Day in a giving mood.
Unless that meant handing the University of Toledo its fifth defeat in its last six outings.
Ball State had little problem producing a 66-50 victory over the Rockets before an announced crowd of 1,622 at Savage Hall for the Mid-American Conference West Division matchup.
The Rockets (8-16, 4-8 MAC) trailed the Cardinals (19-4, 10-2 MAC) from start to finish after shooting only 32 percent (19 of 59) from the field.
"We can't score," UT coach Mark Ehlen said. "We can't put the ball in the basket."
Danielle Bishop paced the Rockets with 12 points on a 4-for-14 shooting night while Savannah Werner added 10 points for UT, which trailed the Cardinals by as many as 18 points in the second half. Lisa Johnson came off the bench to add nine points and equaled Bishop for team-high with seven rebounds.
"We can't stop now," said Bishop, a senior, after another disappointing loss.
"We still have the MAC tournament to play for."
The Rockets' problems against Ball State were quite obvious.
They couldn't stop Ball State's Julie DeMuth, who delivered the kind of performance worthy of stirring MAC player of the year conversations. The Cardinals' 5-10 guard scored a game-high 28 points and grabbed a game-high 19 rebounds, including 10 offensive boards.
DeMuth already had done plenty of damage by halftime, registering 14 points (her season average) and 12 boards heading into the second half.
"Julie DeMuth, we had no answer for," Ehlen said.
The Cardinals jumped out to an early 8-2 lead and never looked back. They led by as many as 16 points during the first 20 minutes and were able to take a 35-20 lead into halftime.
Ball State coach Tracy Roller credited her team for following through on the game plan.
"Our aggressiveness was right from the start," Roller said.
At times, the Rockets made some runs at trimming the Cardinals' lead but Ball State seemed to always respond with a run of its own.
UT came within eight points of Ball State when Kristi Zeller nailed a 3-pointer to make it 56-48 with 3:36 left to play. But the Cardinals closed out the game with a 10-2 run to secure the victory.
"It seemed whenever we needed a basket, somebody stepped up and scored a basket," Roller said.
The Rockets recently suffered a disappointing one-point loss at Akron, a game that they felt they should have won. However, their latest fall came against a team that has dealt disappointment to plenty this season - Bowling Green.
Outside of the Falcons, the Cardinals have been the class of the MAC this year.
"We got beat by a better team," Ehlen said.
The Rockets were their worst enemy in the first half, making only 8 of 27 shots (29.6 percent). Oftentimes, the Rockets misfired on wide-open looks at the basket. No one from UT's starting lineup made more than one field goal in the first half.
Rockets starters Diana Reindl, Savannah Werner, Ta'Yani Clark and Bishop combined for 4-for-16 shooting in the first half.
Allie Clifton started but didn't attempt a shot before halftime.
Johnson and Olivia Terry came off the bench to make two baskets apiece to lead the Rockets in the first half with four points each, along with Werner.
The Rockets, who own a 41-14 series lead, had won the last four meetings with the Cardinals at Savage Hall.
UT will play at Eastern Michigan on Saturday at 2 p.m. in the Convocation Center.
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