YPSILANTI, Mich. - The Ball State men's basketball team was out-scored 41-28 in the second half as the Cardinals dropped a 61-50 contest to Mid-American Conference foe Eastern Michigan Saturday afternoon at the Convocation Center. The loss drops the Cardinals to 13-14 overall and 4-10 in MAC play while Eastern Michigan improves to 13-16 overall and 8-6 in league action.
Senior forward Jarrod Jones (Michigan City, Ind./Michigan City) posted his eighth double-double of the season and 29th of his career in the loss. Jones was the only Cardinal in double figures as he scored 14 points while grabbing 11 rebounds. Sophomore guard Tyrae Robinson (Gary, Ind./Bowman Academy) dished out a career-high 10 assists in the loss while not committing a turnover.
The first half saw both teams mired in a defensive battle as the Cardinals led by as many as seven points in the half before taking a 22-20 lead into the locker room. Ball State connected on 45.0 percent (9-of-20) from the field but committed eight turnovers in the first half and only hit 1-of-4 free throws. Robinson scored five points to lead the Cardinals while also handing out five assists in the opening half.
Eastern Michigan was held to just 25.9 percent (7-of-27) shooting from the field, but had seven more attempts than the Cardinals due to its rebounding edge. The Eagles out-rebounded the Cardinals 17-14 in the first half, including 10 offensive rebounds. Derek Thompson led EMU with five points in the half while Darrell Lampley added four points.
Jones scored the first basket of the second half on a dunk before Eastern Michigan responded with a 9-0 run to force the Cardinals into a timeout. J.R. Sims capped the run with a three-pointer from the corner to give the Eagles a 29-24 lead. The Eagles extended their lead to double figures at 43-33 with 10:13 left in the game to force the Cardinals into another timeout.
Ball State answered with seven straight points to pull within three at 43-40. Sophomore Matt Kamieniecki (Clarkston, Mich./Clarkston) started the run scoring in the paint while redshirt sophomore Tyler Koch (Winchester, Ind./Wright State) forced the Eagles into a timeout with a three-pointer to make it a one possession game.
Eastern Michigan once again had the answer as Matt Balkema converted an old-fashioned three-point play on the ensuing possession to give the Eagles breathing room. The Cardinals tried to mount a comeback but each time they made a run, Eastern Michigan was able to score timely baskets to keep the Cardinals at bay. The Eagles closed the game hitting 16 of their final 17 from the free throw line to seal the victory.
Ball State ended the night shooting 47.6 percent (20-of-42) from the field and 46.2 percent (6-of-13) from three-point land. The Cardinals, who entered the game leading the MAC in free throw percentage in league games (72.4%), only connected on 4-of-11 (36.4%) from the charity stripe.
Eastern Michigan dominated play on the glass with a 33-23 advantage, including 14 offensive rebounds that led to 13 second-chance points. The Eagles connected on 36.2 percent (17-of-47) from the field, 43.8 percent (7-of-16) from long-range and 87.0 percent (20-of-23) from the line.
Lampley led the Eagles with 13 points and eight assists as he was a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line. Antonio Green added 10 points and five rebounds while Balkema scored six points and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.
The Cardinals head home to Worthen Arena for their final two games of the regular season beginning Wednesday night as they host Central Michigan. Game time is set for 7 p.m.