TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- Ball State’s starting backcourt of Jesse Berry and Zavier Turner combined for 40 points Saturday, but the Cardinals dropped an 82-73 decision at Indiana State in the 2013-14 men’s basketball season opener.
The Cardinals, playing their first regular-season game under head coach James Whitford, rallied from a 15-point deficit early in the second half to draw within six inside the 10-minute mark, but the Sycamores held Ball State off down the stretch.
The game featured quality shooting numbers for both teams. Ball State (0-1) shot 53 percent from the floor and knocked down 7 of 15 3-point attempts. Indiana State (1-0) connected on 56 percent from the floor and hit 9 of 16 from beyond the arc.
Berry hit three 3-pointers on his way to a game-high 23 points, while Turner also hit three -- all in the second half -- and finished with 17 points. For Whitford, the game was a positive step as the Cardinals work to develop in his up-tempo system.
“We are still going to get way better,” Whitford said. “We just have to have the same mentality every week that we did this week and focus in on our own style of play and our own system. I thought we made great progress, and I was proud of our guys’ effort today.”
Dawon Cummings hit six 3s for Indiana State and led his team with 21 points. Four players scored double figures for a veteran Sycamore team coming off four straight postseason appearances and picked to finish second in the Missouri Valley Conference. Cousy Award candidate Jake Odum finished with 17 points and seven assists, followed by Manny Arop with 14 points and Justin Gant with 11.
Cummings knocked down five of his 3-pointers in the first half. The Sycamores built an early 10-point lead, but the Cardinals kept it close the rest of the half. Odum was fouled shooting a 3 right before the break and hit all three free throws to send the Sycamores to the locker room up 43-34.
A layup from Arop at the 16:19 mark gave Indiana State its biggest lead at 53-38, but Ball State did not go away. The Cardinals rallied and trimmed the lead to 64-58 with 9:52 left on a Berry 3-pointer, but that was as close as they could get. A 3-point attempt from Franko House would have cut the lead to five inside of two minutes, but it rimmed out and Indiana State finished off the game at the free throw line.
“The thing I’ll give our guys credit for is there are a lot of teams that would have laid down when they got down 14 or 15,” Whitford said. “But I feel like the personality of our team is starting to come out, and it’s a team that really competes.”
Eight Ball State players scored in the game. Preseason All-Mid-American Conference center Majok Majok finished with eight points. House led the Cardinals on the boards with six rebounds in a game without many missed shots.
Ball State will return to Muncie to play three straight games at home. The Cardinals play their home opener at 7 p.m. Tuesday against Taylor. Southeast Missouri and Butler will also visit Worthen Arena in the next two weeks.