ANCHORAGE, Alaska - The Ball State men's basketball team rallied from a 13-point second half deficit and forced overtime before dropping a 78-73 battle to Big East foe St. John's in the opening round of the 2010 Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout at Sullivan Arena. The Cardinals posted a 24-6 second half run to take the lead before junior guard Randy Davis' (Plymouth, Ind./Plymouth) potential game-winning shot at the end of regulation fell just short sending the game into extra time.
"We got off to a great start tonight as we were able to control play in the first five minutes," head coach Billy Taylor said. "St. John's did a good job of battling back and we had a lull offensively in the first half. We made some adjustments at halftime and came out in the second half and played great defense. We were right there and had a quality look at the end of the game that we just didn't convert. Tonight was disappointing as we thought we had the game in hand after showing a lot of resiliency and heart to battle back."
Ball State (2-2) shot 68.2 percent (15-of-22) in the second half and 81.8 percent (9-of-11) from the free throw line as it out-scored St. John's 41-29 in the second frame. Freshman Jesse Berry (Lafayette, Ind./Jefferson) led four Cardinals in double figures as he scored a career-high 18 points, including 12 in the second half as he made his first career start.
Ball State opened the game quickly as it jumped out to a 7-0 lead as junior forward Jarrod Jones (Michigan City, Ind./Michigan City) scored the first four points of the game and Berry nailed a three-pointer to force the Red Storm into a timeout. St. John's (2-1) responded with eight straight points of its own to take its first lead as Paris Horne hit a three-pointer.
The Cardinals took a 10-8 lead before St. John's broke the game open with a 14-2 run to take a 22-12 lead. Dwight Hardy scored five points in the run and Justin Brownlee nailed a three-pointer in the spurt. Ball State responded with five straight points to pull within five before the Red Storm posted an 8-1 run and took a 34-22 lead into the locker room.
Ball state shot 30.4 percent (7-of-23) from the field and 37.5 percent (3-of-8) from long range in the opening half. Sophomore guard Jauwan Scaife (Muncie, Ind./Muncie Central) led the Cardinals with six points in the half. St. John's connected on 42.9 percent (12-of-28) in the first half, including 3-of-8 (37.5%) from long range. Hardy posted eight points in the first half while Brownlee chipped in seven points.
St. John's came out of the break and extended its lead to 13 points at 45-32 with just over 15 minutes remaining in the game. Ball State responded with a 24-6 run over the ensuing 10-plus minutes of the game to take a 56-51 lead. Berry was the offensive catalyst in the run as he scored nine points, including two old-fashioned three-point plays. Jones added six points in the spurt while senior forward Malik Perry (Philadelphia, Pa./Philadelphia) chipped in four points.
The Cardinals extended the lead to six with 2:15 remaining in the game as Tyrae Robinson (Gary, Ind./Bowman Academy) nailed two free throws. The Red Storm came back down and D.J. Kennedy nailed a three-pointer to pull St. John's within three. The Cardinals hit one free throw on the ensuing possession to take a four-point lead.
Brownlee scored on back-to-back possessions to tie the game at 63-63 with 33 seconds remaining in the game. The Cardinals held the final possession and worked the clock down as Davis drove into the paint and got a jump shot off at the buzzer that skimmed the front of the rim to send the game into overtime.
St. John's opened the extra time with two quick baskets to take a 67-63 lead. The Cardinals answered back as Jones scored in the paint but Kennedy nailed a three-pointer with 1:18 left in the extra time to extend the lead back to five at 70-65. The Red Storm sealed the victory as it 6-of-8 from the free throw line down the stretch to take home the victory.
Ball State connected on 50.0 percent (25-of-50) from the field in the game and 38.5 percent from the three-point land (5-of-13). The Cardinals also hit 78.3 percent (18-of-23) from the free throw line, including hitting 13-of-15 after the first half.
Davis finished the game with 14 points as he was 4-of-8 from the field and 5-of-6 from the free throw line. He also tied his career-high with nine assists, marking the third time this season he has posted at least eight helpers. Jones chipped in 14 points and eight rebounds as he was 7-of-12 from the field. Scaife rounded out the Cardinals' double figure scorers as he finished with 11 points and five rebounds.
St. John's finished the night shooting 50.9 percent (28-of-55) from the field and 40.0 percent (6-of-15) from three-point land. Brownlee led all scorers as he scored 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds while Kennedy finished with 15 points, 11 which came after the first half. Hardy chipped in 14 points while Horne added 11 points off the bench.
Ball State returns to action in the Great Alaska Shootout Friday afternoon as it faces Southern Utah at noon (AT), which is equivalent to 4 p.m. (ET).