MUNCIE, Ind. -- The Ball State men’s basketball team outscored Marian 40-22 in the second half Monday night to come from behind for a 62-59 win in exhibition action at Worthen Arena.
Freshman point guard Zavier Turner led the way with 18 points, and fellow freshman Franko House added 12 on a night that saw Ball State rookies combine to play 84 minutes. Majok Majok posted a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
Playing its first game under head coach James Whitford, Ball State used more fluid offense and better pressure defense in the half court to overcome a 15-point halftime deficit. The Cardinals trailed by as many as 17 in the opening 20 minutes against a skilled Marian team.
But time after time in the second half, Ball State forced Marian into tough looks at the basket in late shot clock situations. The Cardinals were able to get out in transition off some of those misses and even pushed the ball more off Marian made baskets. Ball State also cut its turnover total from 13 in the first half to six in the second.
“We were a little bit of chaos out there in the first half,” Whitford said. “Guys were playing way too fast. We want to play fast, but when you have the ball in your hands, you have to slow down. We adjusted in the second half and were more like the team we try to be every day in practice.
“Every four minutes there is a media timeout, and we’re trying to win each specific four-minute segment. We won all five of them in the second half.”
With better spacing on the offensive end, Majok and House managed better touches on the inside. House scored 10 of his points and Majok eight of his in the second half. The Cardinals’ more aggressive play drew more fouls, putting them in the double bonus with 7:45 to play. Majok got to the foul line six times on the night and made all of them.
Marian shot 51.7 percent in the first half, including 4-of-7 from 3-point range, and took a 37-22 lead into the break. Ball State slowly whittled away at the lead throughout the second half.
The Cardinals cut it to single digits on Quinten Payne free throws with just over 14 minutes to play and got it under five at 53-49 on Turner free throws with five minutes remaining. A Majok kick out for a Jesse Berry 3-pointer brought the Cardinals within one a 57-56, and then Majok put back a Turner miss with 2:28 left to give Ball State its first lead since early in the game.
The Cardinals held onto the lead the rest of the way and survived Marian’s last possession when Chris Bond extended to deflect a potential game-tying 3-pointer.
Aaron Evans led three double-figure scorers for Marian, while Nick Achille scored 14 and Jason Riley added 13. After their hot shooting in the first half, the Knights managed just 25.9 percent from the floor in the second.
Ball State now turns its attention to its regular-season opener Saturday at Indiana State. The Cardinals and Sycamores will tip at 1:05 p.m. at the Hulman Center in Terre Haute as Ball State battles its longest running rival.