MEN'S BASKETBALL: Cardinals snap four-game losing streak
BSU gets win against MAC East leader Buffalo
The odds coming in were not in Ball State's favor.
Buffalo was riding a six-game winning streak. For Ball State it was the opposite – a four-game losing streak.
But the Cardinals found a way to knock off Buffalo (14-7, 6-3 MAC) by the slimmest score of 72-71.
"We needed this one in a bad way. We hadn't been playing particularly well," coach Billy Taylor said. "Our talk for the past couple days has been focused around us being consistent – putting everything together from an offensive and defensive standpoint and doing it for an entire forty minutes."
The game went back and forth all afternoon and came down to a final possession by Buffalo with 7.9 seconds left on the clock.
Both teams were out of timeouts, so the Bulls' Byron Mulkey had to come up with a play on his own.
"I just wanted to stay up on them so they couldn't roll the ball," point guard Randy Davis said. "When (Mulkey) was coming down I saw him kind of look to his big and I knew there was going to be some type of screen. I knew after I came off the first one he was baiting me for the second one."
Davis didn't bite on the ball screen – neither did Jarrod Jones.
Both Jones and Davis stayed solid and left Mulkey with only an off balance one-handed three-point attempt that skimmed the bottom of the backboard, giving the Cardinals the victory – their first in two weeks.
With seven seconds left, Taylor said he wanted to go with more size and speed on the floor for the final play. He called on Chris Bond and Pierre Sneed to come off the bench.
"(We) figured it would be some kind of high ball screen action," he said. "I thought Jarrod did a very good job showing on the first ball screen. There wasn't much time."
"Really a great job there defensively. Again not much time it's coming in a hurry with no timeouts either way. You had to find a way – that's what we kept talking about. Just find a way to win."
Ball State's success can be credited to its defensive strategy to Buffalo's shooters from the perimeter.
Mulkey got two quick fouls early, forcing him to sit the bench for most of the first half.
With Mulkey out, the Bull's only deep threat was Zach Filzen. Coming into Saturday's game, Mulkey and Filzen combined to shoot 42.8 percent (104-243) from three on the season.
Filzen led all scorers with 26 points.
In previous games, the Cardinals struggled to limit opposing three-point shooters. Taylor said that was in the back of his players minds after the Miami game.
"We were paying attention to the three-point line," he said. "We were trying to close out their shooters with urgency,"
Three players scored in double figures for Ball State (14-8, 6-3 MAC). Jauwan Scaife led the way with 22 points, going 6-8 from behind the arc.
Chris Bond scored 11, while Davis pulled in 10 and dished out four assists.
"We really (have) been trying to stay focused and come out with a chip on our shoulder these past games," Scaife said. "It was a must win."