MUNCIE, Ind. - The Ball State men's basketball team never trailed in 71-52 victory over Central Michigan Wednesday evening in Mid-American Conference West Division action at Worthen Arena. It was BSU's fifth-straight win over the Chippewas and the Cardinals are now 35-5 all-time versus CMU in Muncie.
"Obviously we have had our struggles here the last few weeks so it was nice to come out and play from the front the whole game," head coach Billy Taylor said. "Our defense was really stingy tonight and we did a good job of getting the first stop which allowed us to get out in transition. We did a better job tonight finishing in the paint and converting those plays make it easier to step up and hit jump shots."
Four players scored in double figures for Ball State (14-14 / 5-10 MAC), as it tallied the first four points of the game and never looked back. Sophomore guard Jesse Berry (Lafayette, Ind./Jefferson) led the Cardinals with 15 points in the win, including seven points in a critical 16-5 run in the second half which helped put the contest out of reach.
Sophomore forward Chris Bond (Gary, Ind./Bowman Academy) chipped in 13 points, while senior forward Randy Davis (Plymouth, Ind./Plymouth) tallied 12 and sophomore guard Tyrae Robinson (Gary, Ind./Bowman Academy) recorded 10.
Senior forward Jarrod Jones (Michigan City, Ind./Michigan City) continued his march toward 1,000 career rebounds, grabbing a team-high 10 in the contest to up his career total to 968. Only two other players have collected 1,000 career boards in program history; Ed Butler (1961-64) at 1,231 and Randy Boarden (1975-79) at 1,000.
Andre Coimbra led Central Michigan (9-20 / 4-11 MAC) with 16 points and 14 rebounds for his second career double-double, while Trey Zeigler scored 14 points.
For the game, the Cardinals shot 58.1 percent (25-of-43) from the field, including a 60.0 percent (12-of-20) effort in the opening 20 minutes. BSU also hit all three of its three-pointers in the opening half and finished the contest 6-of-11 (54.5 percent).
The Ball State defense limited the Chippewas to a 30.4 percent (21-of-69) effort from the field, including a 23.8 percent (5-of-21) mark from behind the arc.
Ball State came out of the gate quickly and took an early 10-6 lead as Jones scored on back-to-back possessions. The Cardinals opened to a 21-12 lead with an 8-2 run as Berry and Tyler Koch (Winchester, Ind./Wright State) hit three-pointers in the run.
Central Michigan narrowed the gap back down to four points as Trey Zeigler got going on the offensive end. The Cardinals answered with a 7-0 run to force CMU into a timeout as Davis scored five straight, including a three-pointer in the corner to take a 30-19 lead.
The Chippewas responded back with seven straight, beginning with a three-pointer from Olivier Mbaigoto and another basket from Zeigler to narrow the gap to 30-26. The Cardinals scored on the final possession with 3.6 seconds left as freshman forward Aaron Adeoye (Marion, Ill./Marion) scored in the paint to send Ball State into the locker room with a 32-26 lead.
Ball State connected on 60 percent (12-of-20) from the field, including all three three-pointers in the first half. The Cardinals committed 10 first half turnovers but held those miscues to just six points. Jones led the Cardinals with seven points and six rebounds in the half while Davis, Berry and Koch all scored five points.
Central Michigan connected on just 31.6 percent (12-of-38) from the field but took 18 more shots than the Cardinals in large part to 13 offensive rebounds. Zeigler led the Chippewas with 12 points on 6-of-11 shooting while Derek Jackson added five points.
Ball State put the pressure on the Chippewas early in the second half as it scored the first five points to force CMU into an early timeout as Davis nailed another three-pointer. The Cardinals broke the game open with seven straight points on their way to a 16-5 run to extend their lead to 57-39 with 5:42 left in the contest.
Berry was the catalyst in the spurt as he scored seven points in the run while sophomore guard Tyrae Robinson (Gary, Ind./Bowman Academy) converted an acrobatic three-point play to ignite the offense. The Cardinals closed out the 19-point victory down the stretch as Bond scored five points and Berry capped the night with a three-pointer on BSU's final possession.
Ball State closes out the regular season Saturday afternoon as it hosts Northern Illinois at 2 p.m. at Worthen Arena. The Cardinals will honor seniors Pierre Sneed (Chicago, Ill./Simeon), Randy Davis (Plymouth, Ind./Plymouth) and Jarrod Jones (Michigan City, Ind./Michigan City) before the game on senior day. Additionally, the Cardinals will honor long-time radio voice Morry Mannies at halftime of the game in his final home game of his illustrious 56-year career.