MBB: Strong Second Half Not Enough at JMU
Majok added 14 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the year, while Berry matched his career-high with six 3-pointers, including four in the second half. Freshman point guard Zavier Turner joined them in double figures with 10 points to go along with a career-best six assists.
Chris Bond, another senior, came up just short of a double-double of his own with nine points and nine rebounds at the JMU Convocation Center.
But James Madison (5-9) was able to shoot 50 percent for the game, and the Dukes knocked down some key 3-pointers of their own in big moments. Charles Cooke led JMU with 20 points, followed by Ron Curry with 17 and Andrey Semenov with 16.
The Cardinals (2-8) turned the ball over 19 times but managed to stay around with hustle plays. Perhaps no play exemplified that more than when Mark Alstork dove for a ball near midcourt with just under one minute to play. Turner quickly followed him to the ground, wound up with the ball and was fouled, leading to a pair of free throws that brought Ball State within three at 69-66.
Trailing by four the next time down the court, Turner found Alstork for a 3 on the wing, but the shot came up short and Ball State was forced to foul. James Madison polished off the win at the free throw line.
“In the second half, we played as hard as we’ve played since I’ve been the head coach here, and I told our guys I was proud of that,” Ball State head coach James Whitford said. “We made a lot of mistakes, and we have to keep shrinking those down every time we play, but the effort level in the second half was something to build on. That was the real positive for me tonight.”
The effort also showed up on the glass, where Ball State held a 37-28 advantage, including an 11-5 edge in offensive rebounds.
The Cardinals struggled offensively in the first half against a James Madison team that played 40 minutes of zone defense and used its length to cut off passing lanes to the interior. Ball State shot a shade below 35 percent before halftime but managed to shoot better than 46 percent after the break.
“We made some adjustments at halftime that were good for us,” Whitford said. “I wish we would have made a few of them earlier. Those things aren’t easy for us, but I though we attacked it well in the second half.”
The Cardinals trailed 35-27 at halftime and found themselves down by as many as 12 early in the second half. But they clawed back by getting the ball into the paint and also scoring on kick outs.
Berry’s final 3-pointer of the night brought Ball State within one at 60-59 with 5:09 left, but Cooke immediately responded with a 3-point play on the other end. The James Madison lead never shrunk to fewer than three points the rest of the way.
Ball State played Monday with an eight-man rotation, its shortest of the season. The Cardinals were short on backcourt depth with Quinten Payne (injury) and Kindon Crowder (illness) joining the already-injured Chase Brogna in sitting out the game.
Monday concluded a stretch in which the Cardinals played five out of six games on the road. They will play their first home game in a month when Oakland City visits for Ball State's final non-conference contest Friday at 7 p.m.