MUNCIE, Ind. - Sophomore guard Jesse Berry (Lafayette, Ind./Jefferson) tied a career-high with five second-half three pointers to help the Ball State men's basketball team out-score Northern Illinois 35-10 in the final 16 minutes of a 62-51 Mid-American Conference West Division victory at Worthen Arena Saturday afternoon.
"Senior day is an emotional day and we didn't get off to a great start, but our bench came in and amped up the energy," head coach Billy Taylor said. "It started with Matt Kamieniecki and his energy running the floor making hustle plays then Jauwan Scaife and Jesse Berry took turns igniting our offense. Once Jesse caught fire in the second half, we were able to ride that wave of enthusiasm to victory."
The Cardinals close out the 2012 regular season with a 15-14 (6-10 MAC) record to earn the ninth seed in the Mid-American Conference Tournament and will travel to eighth-seeded Western Michigan Monday for the opening round. The Huskies fall to 4-25 (3-13 MAC) and will battle to an opponent yet to be determined.
Berry led all players in scoring, racking up 19 total points thanks in part to a 5-for-9 effort from behind the arc. Of his 19 points, 16 came in the second half, including 13 straight at one point in the game.
With the Cardinals trailing by 12-points (39-27) at the 16:30 mark of the second half, a three-point bucket from senior guard Randy Davis (Plymouth, Ind./Plymouth) sparked one of the biggest runs of the season, as Ball State rattled off 14-straight to take a 41-39 advantage.
The Huskies would reclaim the lead briefly with the next five points, but a lay-up from senior forward Jarrod Jones (Michigan City, Ind./Michigan City) and four straight trifectas from Berry gave Ball State control of the game.
In celebrating senior night, Jones finished the game with 11 points, seven rebounds, a block and a steal. Classmate Davis chipped in five points, four assists, three steals and a pair of boards. In his final home game, senior Pierre Sneed (Chicago, Ill./Simeon) tallied two points, two rebounds and an assist.
The game also marked the final home game in the illustrious 56-year career of the Voice of the Cardinals, Morry Mannies. Mannies has called the Cardinals' games on 104.1 WLBC FM since 1956 for both men's basketball and football. Ball State honored him at halftime and raised a banner into the rafters of Worthen Arena commemorating his legacy.
For the game, the Cardinals shot 39.6 (21-of-53) percent from the field, including a 36.0 (9-of-25) effort from three-point range. The Huskies hit 40.0 (18-of-45) percent of their shots, including a 47.6 (10-of-21). However, BSU was able to out-score the Huskies 23-11 off turnovers to help claim the win.
Northern Illinois jumped out to an early lead opening to a 14-5 run just six minutes into the game. The Huskies hit their first two three-pointers of the game on their way to 6-of-11 (54.5%) shooting from long range in the first half.
The Cardinals slowed the tide with a 7-2 run that was ignited by Berry converting an old-fashioned three-point play. Ball State pulled within three points at 25-25 as junior guard Jauwan Scaife (Muncie, Ind./Muncie Central) three straight from distance. Northern Illinois closed the half on a 7-2 run to take a 32-24 lead into the locker room.
Ball State connected on just 36.0 percent (9-of-25) from the field in the first half and just 25 percent (3-of-12) from long range. Northern Illinois connected on 48.1 percent (13-of-27) from the field and hit a staggering 54.5 percent (6-of-11) from long range in the opening frame.
Northern Illinois opened the second half with a three-pointer and extended the lead up to 39-27 with 16:30 left in the game. The Cardinals responded with 14 unanswered points to take a 41-39 lead. Davis started the run with a three pointer while freshman forward Aaron Adeoye (Marion, Ill./Marion) scored five points in the spurt to swing the momentum the Cardinals' way.
The Huskies slowed the run with five straight points before the Cardinals sealed the victory with a 21-3 run on the back of Berry. He scored 16 points in the span of 5:13 of the second half as he hit five straight three-pointers against the Huskies.
Ball State connected on 42.9 percent (12-of-28) in the second half and hit 6-of-13 (46.2%) from long range as it out-scored the Huskies 38-19.
The Cardinals begin the 2012 MAC Tournament in Kalamazoo, Mich., where they face the Western Michigan Broncos in the rubber match of the season after the teams split the season series. Ball State posted a 78-69 victory in Muncie while the Broncos recorded a 78-61 victory in Kalamazoo. The Cardinals are 4-1 all-time against Western Michigan in MAC Tournament history but Monday's meeting will be the first against WMU in the postseason since 1993.