MUNCIE, Ind. - The Ball State men's basketball team suffered a 63-55 loss to Mid-American Conference foe Toledo Wednesday evening at Worthen Arena. The loss drops the Cardinals to 12-12 on the year and 4-8 in MAC play while Toledo improves to 12-14 overall and 4-8 in league action.
The Cardinals dropped the game despite holding a 46-30 edge on the glass and taking 29 more field goal attempts than the Rockets (65-36). Toledo overcame the Cardinals' advantages by hitting 70.6 percent (12-of-17) from three-point land in the game, including an 8:26 stretch of the second half in which the Rockets hit seven of eight three-pointers. The 12 three-pointers mark the second straight game the Rockets have posted a dozen long range shots this season.
"We played with tremendous effort tonight and were really physical," head coach Billy Taylor said. "We were aggressive on the glass and battled for loose balls all game long. Toledo got hot making shots, especially from three, and Dennis (Curtis) got loose in the second half which hurt us significantly. We missed some short shots in the paint in the first half and couldn't capitalize on our rebounding advantage."
Sophomore guard Jesse Berry (Lafayette, Ind./Jefferson) led three Cardinals in double figures with a game-high 17 points off the bench as he hit four three-pointers. Redshirt sophomore Tyler Koch (Winchester, Ind./Wright State) returned to action after missing the past three games due to a family emergency and scored 13 points off the bench.
After Ball State scored the first basket of the game, the Rockets ran off seven straight to take a 7-2 lead. The Cardinals responded with back-to-back baskets from Koch and Zach Fields (North Vernon, Ind./Jennings County) to trim the deficit to one point.
The teams battled back and forth for most of the half with Toledo taking a 19-15 lead with 2:49 left. Berry put the Cardinals in front at 21-20 as he hit back-to-back three-pointers before Toledo scored at the free throw line to end the half with a 22-21 lead.
Ball State connected on just 26.5 percent (9-of-34) from the field and just 25 percent (3-of-12) from three-point land. The Cardinals dominated play on the glass with a 26-17 advantage, including 13 offensive rebounds, on their way to nine second chance points. Berry led all first half scorers with nine points, all from long distance.
Toledo connected on 47.1 percent (8-of-17) from the field but hit 80 percent (4-of-5) from long range. Reese Holliday scored eight points in the first half, including a pair of three-pointers, while Julius Brown added five points.
Senior forward Jarrod Jones (Michigan City, Ind./Michigan City) scored the first basket of the second half to give the Cardinals a 23-22 lead. Toledo answered back with a basket in the paint before using the long range shot on its next seven field goals to take a 45-34 lead. Curtis Dennis and Dominique Buckley each hit three three-pointers in the run as Koch tried to answer hitting a trio of threes himself but could not keep pace with the Rockets.
Ball State made a run posting an 11-3 push to trim the deficit to 55-50 with 1:22 left in the game. Jones started the run with five straight points, including a three-point play, while Berry capped the spurt with six straight, ending on a deep three-pointer. The Cardinals tried to cut into the lead down the stretch but would get no closer than five points in the closing minute as Toledo hit eight of its last nine from the charity stripe.
The Cardinals connected on just 30.8 percent (20-of-65) from the field on the night and 30 percent (9-of-30) from long range. Ball State dominated the glass with a 46-30 advantage, including 24 offensive rebounds. Jones led the way on the glass with a double-double scoring 11 points and tying his career-high with 15 rebounds.
Toledo ended the night hitting 52.8 percent (19-of-36) from the field, including 12 three-pointers. The Rockets were led by Dennis' 17 points off the bench, all in the second half, as he hit four three-pointers. Buckley added 11 points and Brown chipped in 10 points for Toledo.
The Cardinals step out of MAC play this weekend to take part in the annual Sears BracketBusters event. Ball State will host Missouri Valley Conference member Southern Illinois Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. at Worthen Arena.