MUNCIE, Ind. - Four players scored in double figures to lift the Ball State men's basketball team to a 71-62 non-conference victory over Southern Illinois Saturday afternoon in a Sears BracketBusters showdown at Worthen Arena.
"This is obviously what we have been waiting to see," head coach Billy Taylor said. "It was great to see our guys come out and play so well today. What stood out to me, was our unselfishness. We moved the basketball, got dribble penetration and made the extra pass to find open shooters. That ball movement spurred our offense and got our guys going today."
Senior guard Randy Davis (Plymouth, Ind./Plymouth) led the BSU attack with 19 points to help the Cardinals snap a seven-game losing streak and improve to 13-12 overall this season. Davis, who is among the national leaders in assist-to-turnover ratio, also dished out three assists while not committing a turnover.
Also scoring double-digit points for the Cardinals were sophomore guard Tyrae Robinson (Gary, Ind./Bowman Academy) with 14, sophomore guard Jesse Berry (Lafayette, Ind./Jefferson) with 13 and senior forward Jarrod Jones (Michigan City, Ind./Michigan City) with 10. Jones and freshman forward Aaron Adeoye (Marion, Ill./Marion) tied for team-high honors with eight boards apiece, including five offensive boards for Adeoye.
Southern Illinois (8-20) senior Mamadou Seck led all players with 26 points and 11 rebounds. Kendal Brown-Surles and Dantiel Daniels also scored in double-figures for the Salukis with 12 and 11 points, respectively.
The Cardinals offense was key in the win, as they connected for a 45.7 (21-for-46) effort from the field, including a 56.0 (14-25) rate of success in the first half. BSU hit 10-of-20 three pointers in the contest, including 3-for-6 efforts from both Davis and Berry. On defense, Ball State limited the Salukis to a 40.7 (22-for-54) effort from the field, including a 30.0 (6-for-20) mark from behind the arc.
The two teams battled back-and-forth during early in the game with Southern Illinois taking an early 14-8 lead as Seck scored eight early points for the.
The Cardinals started to heat up from out the outside and broke the game open as they scored 17 straight points on their way to a 24-2 run to take a 32-16 lead. Ball State hit five three-pointers in the beginning of the run Davis hit the first two followed by threes from Jauwan Scaife (Muncie, Ind./Muncie Central), Berry and Robinson to force Southern Illinois into a timeout.
The Cardinals kept attacking as it went to work scoring in the paint down the stretch of the first half. Berry scored on a drive in the paint while Adeoye scored on an offensive put-back. Jones capped the first half with back-to-back baskets, including a thunderous dunk after driving down the center of the lane.
Ball State went into the locker room with a 32-16 lead after hitting 56.0 percent (14-of-25) from the field and 62.5 percent (5-of-8) from three-point land. The Cardinals also out-scored the Salukis 18-8 in the paint and held a 16-12 rebounding advantage. Robinson led the Cardinals with nine points in the first half while Davis chipped in eight points.
Southern Illinois finished the first half shooting 40.9 percent (9-of-22) from the field and 42.9 percent (3-of-7) from long range. The Salukis were forced into nine first half turnovers in which the Cardinals scored 11 points off the miscues. Seck led SIU with nine points while Brown-Surles added nine points late in the half.
SIU scored the first six points of the second half on back-to-back three-pointers before the Cardinals answered with an 11-3 run to take a 48-31 lead. Once again, the Cardinals used the three-point shot as Berry hit and pair and Davis capped the run with a deep three-pointer.
Southern Illinois was not done though as it kept fighting and posted a 9-2 run to pull within five points at 57-52 with 5:21 left in the game. The Cardinals got a big basket on its ensuing possession as Jones nailed a three-pointer to extend it to a three-possession game.
The Salukis narrowed the lead back to five at 60-55 with 3:33 left and the Cardinals were in need of a big possession. Jones launched a deep three-pointer as the shot clock was winding down that was off the mark, but Adeoye was there for the offensive put-back to give the Cardinals breathing room. Ball State sealed the victory as it was 9-of-12 from the field, including a pair of free throws by Davis and Adeoye in the final 29 seconds.
Ball State returns to Mid-American Conference play Wednesday night as it travels to Kalamazoo, Mich., for a divisional showdown against Western Michigan. Game time is set for 7 p.m. and the game will be televised by SportsTime Ohio.