Men’s basketball starts two game winning streak

By Brian Earl

For the second straight game, men’s basketball found a way to win, overcoming a 15-point deficit in its 67-65 overtime victory over Ball State Saturday on the road.

The win marks the first time the Huskies (9-11, 3-5 MAC) have won two conference road games in a row since March 2006 and the first time they have won an overtime game since beating Toledo 75-70 on Feb. 26, 2011.

“It’s just huge getting a win,” said coach Mark Montgomery. “Now we’re 3-5 [in conference]. We got three straight at home.

“It’s a program builder to win two straight on the road. It gives the guys more confidence, and now we gotta find a way to win at home.”

The Huskies struggled to score in the first half and got off to a slow start while Ball State (4-15, 1-7 MAC) took advantage and jumped out to a quick 15-5 lead behind eight early points from guard Chris Bond.

The Cardinals extended their lead to 15, up 30-15, with 1:51 left to play before the half. The Huskies responded with a 7-0 burst of their own to cut the lead to eight before halftime.

Four minutes into the second half the Huskies cut the Cardinals’ lead to four, trailing 38-34, following a layup by guard Daveon Balls. Ball State answered right back with an 8-2 run of its own to retake a 10-point lead, 48-38, with 10:26 left in the game.

The Huskies saved their best run for the end of the game when guard JJ Cravatta started a 12-2 run with a four-point play, hitting a 3-point field goal and converting on the free throw. Wing Darrell Bowie finished the surge with a 3-pointer of his own to give the Huskies a 55-54 lead with 3:39 left to play.

Down the stretch, the Cardinals retook the lead and led by three with less than a minute left, but guard Travon Baker came up clutch for the Huskies once again, hitting a 3-point field goal with nine seconds left to tie the game at 60-60. The game went to overtime as the Cardinals’ last shot was no good.

“… Baker has become our go-to guy late in games,” Montgomery said. “At Kent State, he hit two free throws to win it, but that [3 at the end of regulation] was probably the biggest shot of his career.”

Guard Aaric Armstead opened up the overtime with a layup to give the Huskies a 62-60 lead. Ball State forward Bo Calhoun answered with a layup of his own to tie the game, and Baker drilled another 3 for the Huskies to take a three-point lead.

Baker split a pair of free throws to extend the Huskies’ lead to four. Ball State guard Jesse Berry answered with a jumper and a free throw to make it 66-65 with 32 seconds left.

Baker went back to the free throw line with 17 seconds left and split another pair of free throws.

Bond got a shot up for the Cardinals with three seconds left, but it came up short as the Huskies held on for the victory.

Armstead led the way for the Huskies with a career-high 14 points while center Jordan Threloff showed up in the second half with all of his 13 points. Bond scored a game-high 16 points for Ball State while Berry added 13 points.