MEN'S BASKETBALL: Upset in Terre Haute puts Ball State in a 0-2 hole
Cards unable to erase a first half deficit of 19 points
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — When the whistle blew to complete Justin Gant's and-one layup, all five Ball State players looked up at the scoreboard.
Indiana State's freshman center had just given his team a 37-19 lead with 48 seconds left in the first half.
Gant made his free throw and the period culminated in one collective look of desperation along the Ball State sideline.
As the final seconds ticked off the clock, the game ended in similar fashion. Indiana State held off Ball State's comeback attempt to win 57-50 in front of 5,773 fans at the Hulman Center.
From the opening possession, the Cardinals dribbled themselves into trouble and made uncharacteristically lazy passes. In one sequence, senior forward Jarrod Jones caught a pass on the break only to sling it underhanded out of bounds across the court. Sophomore forward Chris Bond was streaking unguarded toward the basket.
Coach Billy Taylor said the team got out of sync because of selfish plays.
"The first half, we got beat on dribble penetration and on the glass where they got second chance points," Taylor said. "And the ball just died for us offensively. Every guy that caught it tried to go one-on-one instead of moving the ball. In the second half, we started playing the way we know how to play."
A faster pace suited Ball State in the second half. Senior point guard Randy Davis started pushing the ball up the court faster and caught the Indiana State defense off guard. The team's first four possessions yielded points.
Ball State slowly chipped away and by the 6:42 mark the team had trimmed the lead to nine points. Three minutes later, it was at five behind the shooting of Jauwan Scaife.
After scoring only two points in the first half, the junior guard went 5-8 in the second half including two 3-pointers. Scaife said like everyone else he just tried to be aggressive.
His aggression paid off as he stepped to the line for a 1-and-1 opportunity with 3:38 to go. He missed the front end. Ball State had other opportunities to score, but couldn't convert.
"Words can't even describe it [how I feel]," Scaife said. "I gotta make those — I will make those. It happened. I gotta look forward, but it won't happen again."
Other familiar problems haunted Ball State Friday night.
Over the past two games, inconsistent play from half-to-half crippled Ball State's chances to beat two NCAA Tournament teams from last season. No. 16 Arizona outscored Ball State by 19 points in the second half Sunday while Indiana State used a 19-point margin to jump on Ball State in the first half of Friday's game.
Playing complete games is something Taylor preached after the game. In both of Ball State's games, he said the team only played 20 minutes of good basketball. Against good teams, Taylor said that won't fly.
"That last four minutes, we did enough things to hurt ourselves and kill ourselves in what was a close and competitive ball game," Taylor said. "It was similar to what happened in Arizona. The last four minutes was close and we did things to hurt ourselves down the stretch."