Andrew Walker

This time, Central Michigan University coach Ernie Zeigler made sure he was careful with his postgame comments following Ball State University's 69-63 win last night at Worthen Arena.

See, Zeigler was publicly reprimanded by the Mid-American Conference on Friday for his public comments about the officiating in Central Michigan's loss last week at Ohio University.

Though Zeigler watched his words this time, the Cardinals took full advantage of the whistle-happy officials against his Chippewas. Ball State hit 24-of-31 free throws, led by freshman guard Jauwan Scaife, who hit 12-of-14 free throws to outshoot Central Michigan at the charity stripe (9-of-13).

Scaife, who had been among the top free-throw shooters in the MAC heading into conference play, had struggled of late, converting just 7-of-13 (53.8 percent) from the line in his past six games.

He said extra free-throw shooting after practice and simple confidence played into his performance when it really counted against Central Michigan.

"At the free-throw line the past couple of games, I wasn't putting as much emphasis on focusing, like I was really standing on my toes when I shoot," Scaife said. "I know that, coming into the game, Central Michigan was going to try to play me tight and that they were going to play me as a jump shooter, so I just tried to be aggressive."

Converting free throws hasn't exactly been Ball State's forte the past few seasons. Cardinals' coach Billy Taylor said Tuesday that he's been pleased with the focus of his team at the line since MAC play began. And that trend continued last night.

Ball State was hitting 64.6 percent of its free throws before conference play began, but has stepped it up in MAC play, converting 71.6 percent of its free-throws in those 13 games.

"It's been really critical for us," Taylor said. "It's really been a huge asset for us to be able to go to the line and get some points from there, as well."

The Cardinals' success in that area of the game isn't appealing to everyone involved, however.

When asked about the free-throw shooting of Scaife, Zeigler wasn't about to take the bait.

"Well, you know, I'd rather not comment on that," he said.