Men's Hoops Downs WMU for Sixth Win in Seven Games
KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- The Ball State men's basketball team won for the fourth straight game and the sixth time in the past seven with an 89-85 victory Tuesday at Western Michigan.
Ball State used a 14-point run late in the first half to take control and then grinded out the win at the foul line in a second half that featured 38 combined fouls and 69 total free throw attempts between the teams.
The Cardinals won their fourth straight road game to improve to 14-14 overall and 7-8 in the Mid-American Conference, while West Division leader Western Michigan dropped to 18-11 overall and 9-6 in league play.
"I love the way our guys are playing," Ball State coach Billy Taylor said. "We're sharing the ball. We only had three turnovers in the first half and we were very efficient offensively, shooting the ball at a high percentage. We rebounded extremely well. There were a lot of good things."
Ball State will return home to face Northern Illinois for a 2 p.m. Saturday tipoff on Senior Day. The Cardinals can still earn the No. 5 seed and a first-round bye in the MAC Tournament with a win over the Huskies coupled with a Buffalo loss at Bowling Green. At worst, Ball State will host a first-round game.
Tuesday at Western Michigan, Ball State closed the first half in strong fashion to take control. Trailing 25-23 with seven minutes before halftime, the Cardinals out-scored the Broncos 17-3 to close the half, including a 14-0 run a one point.
Berry connected on 4 of 5 from 3-point range in the first half, including three treys during the key seven-minute stretch and one right before the buzzer that sent Ball State to the locker room with a 40-28 lead.
The Cardinals then built their lead to as many as 19 midway through the second half, doing the majority of their damage at the line. Ball State was 31 for 40 from the stripe in the second half, while Western Michigan was 16 for 29.
Ball State held its largest lead at 63-44 with 9:05 to play and continued to hold a 16-point lead at 76-60 with 2:46 left. The Broncos then made a run and cut the lead to 78-73 after 3-pointers from Taylor Perry and Austin Richie.
With Western Michigan fouling in the closing minutes, the margin continued to stay around four or five points. The Broncos cut it all the way to 86-83 on a Richie lay-in with 15 seconds to play, but Scaife and Berry sealed the game at the free throw line. The duo finished the night 25 for 31 combined at the stripe.
Shayne Whittington led Western Michigan with 28 points and 12 rebounds, while Richie added 15 points and David Brown had 11.
For Ball State, Matt Kamieniecki came up just shy of a double-double with eight points and nine rebounds. Scaife finished with a game-high five assists.