Streak Now at Nine as Ball State Men’s Hoops Defeats EMU to Open MAC Play

By Published: 1/3/2018 6:47:19 AM Custom Tag

Kyle Mallers scores 17 points, Trey Moses logs another double-double

Courtesy: Tyson Mathews | Ball State Athletics
Assistant Director of Media Relations

MUNCIE, Ind. -- The Ball State men’s basketball team rode what head coach James Whitford described as “arguably the best half of basketball we’ve played all year” to its ninth straight victory Tuesday night.

The Cardinals opened Mid-American Conference play with a 72-62 victory over Eastern Michigan behind quality performances from their big men attacking the Eagles’ unique 2-3 zone defense.

Kyle Mallers led the way with 17 points and carried the bulk of the scoring load early. Trey Moses notched his third double-double in the past four games with 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Tahjai Teague added 12 points.

“We defended, we held our own the glass in the second half, and our bigs really did a good job of getting the ball below the foul line and getting more shots in and around the basket,” Whitford said.”

The Cardinals (10-4, 1-0 MAC) more than held their own in the rebounding column, grabbing 42 boards to 33 for the Eagles. BSU limited Eastern Michigan center James Thompson IV to eight points and eight rebounds, below his season averages of 16.4 and 11.8.

Ball State trailed by as many as nine in the first half and went to the locker room down 36-31. The Cardinals rallied late to get to 39 percent shooting for the opening 20 minutes after what Whitford deemed a half of poor shot selection from 3-point range.

BSU made a concerted effort to get shots closer to the rim in the second half, and it paid off. The Cardinals made 13 of 20 looks inside the arc after the break.

Ball State grabbed the lead at 48-47 on a fastbreak lay-in from Jeremie Tyler with 9:31 to play and never trailed again. The bucket came in the middle of a 13-2 run that pushed the Cardinals to a 57-49 lead.

Eastern Michigan (9-5, 0-1 MAC) cut it to 59-56 with 4:19 to play but could get no closer. Mallers answered with a 3-pointer, and Moses went on to score seven of his points in the closing minutes to help seal the victory.

“I thought it was a really big win for us,” Whitford said. “I told my team I was really proud of them. I thought we played in the second half arguably the best half we’ve played all year, top to bottom. We didn’t shoot the ball well, but every other phase of the game in the second half I thought was terrific.”

Tayler Persons scored nine points and handed out a game-high eight assists, while Tyler added eight points. The Cardinals recorded 20 assists on their 26 made baskets and finished with a 23-0 advantage in bench points.

Ball State’s nine-game winning streak is tied for the sixth-longest in program history and is the longest since the 1999-2000 team won 10 in a row.

The Cardinals will attempt to match that mark Saturday as they close out a six-game home stand with a 2 p.m. tipoff against MAC East Division preseason favorite Buffalo.

Published: 1/3/2018 6:47:19 AM Custom Tag