The hound never quite caught up to the hare Thursday night at the University at Buffalo's Alumni Arena.
Oh, the UB Bulls nipped at the heels of the Ball State Cardinals all game long -- they even had four small leads early in the second half -- but when it came time to close in for the kill, coach Tim Cohane's team couldn't do it.
Ball State (11-5, 5-3), tied for first in the Mid-American Conference's West Division, defeated the Bulls, 64-58, to stretch its winning streak to four games.
UB (4-15, 0-8) dropped its eighth in a row. In Division I competition, it has 13 straight losses since a Dec. 1 victory in double overtime at Manhattan.
A bright spot for the Bulls was the continued reawakening of Louis Campbell, who led UB with 21 points on 9-for-11 shooting. Campbell came into the game leading the Bulls with a 13-point average. Against MAC competition, however, he was scoring at only a 9.7 pace. In the team's last three conference games, he scored a total of only 11 points on 9-for-32 shooting.
Campbell began to break out with 13 points in Tuesday's loss to St. Bonaventure. Against Ball State, it seemed at times like he was the only offense the Bulls had.
The sophomore from Rahway, N.J., previously struggled a bit against MAC teams, who had him well-scouted and were pointing their defenses toward him. Campbell admitted that it began to affect his confidence.
"I kind of went in the tank," he said. He worked hard to fight his way out of that tank.
"I looked at a lot of tape," Campbell said. "I was trying to figure out what can I do and what they were doing to stop me, but I had to get out on the floor and kind of feel my way around and try a few different things and let it come to me.
"I felt it coming back the last game (against Bona) and it restored my confidence. Tonight, I just came out and tried to do the same kind of things I did the previous game."
Campbell hit some highlight-film shots, including a floater off a drive down the right baseline that drew UB to 33-30 with five seconds left in the half.
The first of Campbell's two treys in the game brought the Bulls within one, 47-46, with 8:13 to play, but then the UB offense went to pieces. On the next four possessions, the Bulls turned it over. Yet another turnover followed a Nate Johnson miss from the corner. A second trey by Campbell with 4:32 left ended the drought, cutting the Ball State lead to 53-49 but UB got no closer.
Ball State coach Ray McCallum made effective use of a zone defense in the second half when UB made only 10 of 28 shots (35.7). The Cardinals made six of their eight foul shots in the final minute to hold off UB.
"You have to be pleased to win a ballgame and shoot 39 percent (22 of 56) on the road," McCallum said.
UB shot 40 percent. Aside from Louis Campbell's 9 for 11, though, the rest of the UB shooters were only 13 of 44. Will Campbell had 15 points (on 4-for-14 shooting) and 12 rebounds for the Bulls.
Ball State scoring leader Duane Clemens had 14 points, two under his average, but shot only 4 of 15. Josh Murray had 13 rebounds and 6-foot-11 Lonnie Jones came off the bench to anchor the zone, grab eight rebounds and block a couple of shots.