MUNCIE, Ind. -- The Ball State men’s basketball team dropped a 73-62 decision to Mid-American Conference West Division foe Eastern Michigan Wednesday night at Worthen Arena.
The Cardinals shot the ball well from the perimeter against Eastern Michigan’s 2-3 zone, but the Eagles controlled the paint and muscled their way to the foul line, where they made 15 more free throws (25) than Ball State attempted (10).
“I thought Eastern Michigan played a really good game,” Ball State head coach James Whitford said. “They got to the line 32 times and, credit to them, they really attacked us off the dribble. To me that was the difference in the game.”
Senior guard Jesse Berry led the way for Ball State with 17 points, nailing 5 of 10 from 3-point range to surpass 200 treys for his career and close within two of the school record. Freshman point guard Zavier Turner finished with 15 points and a career-high eight assists.
Crowder, a walk-on and former team manager, played a career-high 16 minutes and nearly doubled his point total for the season. He provided another strong shooter for Ball State in a game where the Cardinals were forced to make shots from the outside against the top statistical defense in the MAC.
“We knew coming into the game it wasn’t going to be easy to score against them,” Whitford said. “If you would have told me we would score 62 points, I would say that’s enough for us to win the game. Defensively, we didn’t hold up our end of the bargain.”
Ball State (4-18, 1-10 MAC) made 10 3-pointers for the game and seven the second half alone, but the Cardinals committed 21 turnovers and struggled to get good looks in the paint against Eastern Michigan’s length. The Eagles (14-10, 6-5 MAC) were able to turn the Ball State miscues into 24 points, and they pulled away in the second half by shooting 55 percent and getting to the line 20 times.
“We hit some 3’s in the second half, but you have to combine that with stops on the other end,” Whitford said.”
Raven Lee led the Eagles with 24 points on 8-of-14 shooting. Mike Talley was the second player in double figures for Eastern Michigan with 13 points. EMU 7-footer Da’Shonte Riley did not attempt a shot in 28 minutes but blocked six shots on the defensive end and affected numerous others.
Ball State held a 35-28 advantage on the glass and pulled down 16 offensive rebounds, but Eastern Michigan’s size inside limited the Cardinals to only 11 second-chance points.
With his five 3-pointers on the night, Berry now has 201 for his Ball State career. He is one shy of Patrick Jackson (1998-02) for second place on the school’s all-time list and two away from former teammate Jauwan Scaife (2009-13) for first.
Ball State will wrap up a three-game home stand Saturday part of a doubleheader at Worthen Arena. The women’s team will host Akron at noon, and the men’s team will host Bowling Green at 4 p.m. Fans can see both games for just $3 total, and there will be a concert and special concessions deals between games.