Men’s basketball falls to Ball State


Erik Anderson | Northern Star

By Brian Earle

Despite jumping out to an early eight-point lead, men’s basketball dropped a hard-fought game against Ball State, 56-52, at home on Wednesday.

The Huskies (5-18, 3-8 MAC) managed to jump out to a early 11-3 lead, thanks to two back-to-back 3-point field goals from redshirt junior guard Antone Christian.

After the Cardinals (10-13, 4-7 MAC) rough start, they went on a 14-2 run to take the lead 24-18 with 4:10 remaining in the first half.

During the Cardinals’ run, they held the Huskies without a field goal for four minutes and 36 seconds until sophomore forward Keith Gray hit two free throws.

“You know, we had a lot of turnovers early,” said Ball State coach Billy Taylor. “We had four turnovers before the first media timeout, so we just tried to get settled in. The turnovers and the mistakes we were making was leading to run outs and transition points. Once we got that settled down then we were able to get good shots and able to make a few shots and make a run back of our own.”

Ball State pushed its lead to the largest of the game at nine with 2:52 remaining, but Christian came up big again with two back-to-back 3-pointers before the half to make the score 28-25.

For the first eight minutes of the second half, Ball State continued to hold the lead until freshman wing Darrell Bowie came up with an old-fashioned three-point play to take the lead, 38-37.

From there on out the Huskies and Cardinals battled back and forth, taking turns holding the lead as there were five lead changes and three ties.

With 5:10 left in the game, sophomore wing Abdel Nader scored his first points of the game by hitting two free throws to give the Huskies their biggest lead in the second half.

At the 3:16 mark, the Cardinals would take the lead and hold and it for good due to their strong free-throw shooting.

“This is exactly what we expected: a tight game, one of those grind-out games that was going to come down to the last few possessions,” said coach Mark Montgomery. “It was up for grabs. If we make some free throws there, under four minutes, we could of probably stole the game, but it was a hard-fought game.”

Down the stretch, Ball State hit 10 of its 12 free throws; for the game it hit 20 of 26, shooting 77 percent.

“Something that we have been struggling with lately has been free throws, but we were able to close them out with nine out of 10 down the stretch, which was huge for us,” Taylor said.

The Huskies’ two leading scorers, Nader and junior forward Aksel Bolin, both struggled from the field, going a combined two of 16 from the field and scoring eight points.

“For our best players… not having their best games, we were right there,” Montgomery said. “And we could have still won the game, but a game like that, your best players have to perform well. And it’s no surprise that Abdel Nader probably had his worst game and Aksel Bolin didn’t have a great game either. Those are our two go-to-guys and they just came up short.”

Christian was the leading scorer for the Huskies with a season-high 14 while Bowie added 11.

The Cardinals were led by senior guard Jauwan Scaife with a game-high 23 points while freshman guard Marcus Posley scored 10 points