BUFFALO -- The Ball State men’s basketball team fell to Buffalo 69-48 in Mid-American Conference action Wednesday night as the Bulls evened the season series between the teams.
Senior forward Chris Bond led Ball State with 15 points, reaching double figures for the 10th time in the past 12 games, while freshman point guard Zavier Turner added 11. Senior center Majok Majok grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds despite fouling out with 5:57 to play at Alumni Arena.
The difference in the game was the free throw line, where Buffalo (12-7, 6-3 MAC) knocked down 26 of 35. Ball State (4-16, 1-8 MAC), meanwhile, attempted only 12 free throws and made six of them.
Javon McCrea led Buffalo with 19 points and 14 rebounds, and Jarod Oldham added 17 points as the Bulls avenged a 71-68 loss to Ball State two weeks ago in Muncie. That pair combined to score 17 points at the foul line.
The Cardinals finished with 17 turnovers in the game but just five in the second half. They shot 35 percent from the floor to Buffalo’s 41 percent. The Bulls picked up their shooting in the second half, hitting 59 percent after the break compared to 31 percent before.
“I thought we defended well for a lot of the game,” Ball State head coach James Whitford said. “We turned it over too much in the first half. They really tried to pressure Zavier, and he struggled with it early, but he took care of the ball in the second half.”
It was a two-point game at 31-29 with 16:32 to play after Ball State got off to a fast start to cut into a 26-19 halftime deficit. From there, Buffalo began to gradually build its lead, starting with a 12-3 run that pushed its advantage to double figures.
It was still a nine-point game at 48-39 with 8:14 to play, but Buffalo outscored Ball State by a 21-9 margin down the stretch to pull away.
“It was really the first four minutes and the last eight minutes that were the difference,” Whitford said. “We’re still working on putting it together for 40 minutes.”
Ball State is now halfway through its 18-game league schedule. The Cardinals will return to Muncie for a three-game home stand, which begins with a 2 p.m. tipoff Saturday against MAC West Division leader Toledo at Worthen Arena.