Cardinals Run Away From Grambling, 78-51, in Opener
MUNCIE, Ind. -- Jesse Berry led five players in double figures with 17 points and Majok Majok debuted with 11 points and 12 rebounds as the Ball State men's basketball team opened its season Sunday with a 78-51 win over Grambling State.
Senior center Zach Fields nearly added a double-double of his own with career highs of 10 points and eight rebounds, combining with Majok to help the Cardinals dominate the paint at Worthen Arena.
Ball State (1-0) shared the ball on the offensive end with 17 assists on 25 field goals, and no single player attempted more than nine shots. Defensively, the Cardinals pressured Grambling State (0-2) into 20 turnovers on the afternoon.
The Cardinals turned up the pressure early in the second half, igniting a 19-5 run out of the break that turned a nine-point halftime lead into 23-point advantage at 54-31. They eventually stretched their lead to as many as 29 points.
"It was great to see such a strong collective team effort," Ball State head coach Billy Taylor said. " We made some defensive adjustments at halftime, and I thought Chris Bond set the tone in the second half with his defensive pressure on their point guard."
While Bond was taking the ball away from the Tigers, guards Marcus Posley and Jauwan Scaife were distributing it on the other end. The pair combined for 11 of the 17 Ball State assists on the afternoon. Posley, a freshman from Rockford, Ill., had six of those assists without a single turnover in his first college game to go along with 12 points.
Bond was the fifth Cardinal in double figures, doing most of his damage by using his aggressive play to get to the foul line where he scored eight of his 10 points. His other basket came on an alley-oop from Scaife as part of Ball State's run early in the second half.
Posley and Majok, a 6-foot-8 junior college transfer, were two of six players to see their first action in a Ball State uniform Sunday. Another one of those players, freshman forward Bo Calhoun, also turned in a nice floor game with eight points on 4-of-5 shooting, including a pair of fast-break baskets.
On the other end of the experience spectrum, Sunday's performance was a long time coming for Fields. The fifth-year senior from North Vernon, Ind., who lost 30 pounds in the offseason in the hopes of playing a greater role in his final year, made his first start and took full advantage of it.
"The hard work is paying off," Fields said. "I've never given up, and it feels good. I'm truly blessed to have this opportunity right now, and I'm going to build off of it."
Berry scored 14 of his points and knocked down all four of his 3-pointers in the first half, shouldering most of the scoring load before the break. After halftime is when the Cardinals' balance started to show through, and Ball State shot 58 percent from the floor over the final 20 minutes to open things up.
Terry Rose led all scorers with 22 points for Grambling State, knocking down 8-of-14 shots, including six 3-pointers. But Ball State limited the rest of the Tigers to a combined 10-for-32 from the floor, and no other Grambling State player scored more than seven points.Sunday's game was the first of three straight at home to open the season for Ball State. The Cardinals will be back in action Friday night, hosting Wofford with a 7 p.m. tipoff at Worthen Arena.