Sophomore guard Francis Kiapway goes up for a shot during the game against Kent State on Jan.19 at Worthen Arena. DN PHOTO PATRICK MURPHY
Ball State men's basketball escapes Eastern Michigan with an 88-87 buzzer beater
For the second straight year, Ball State took down Mid-American Conference rival Eastern Michigan after a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from sophomore guard Francis Kiapway.
It took two overtimes for the Cardinals to deliver the Eagles its third consecutive loss. Ball State (13-6, 4-2 MAC) beat Eastern Michigan (10-9, 2-4 MAC) by a final score of 88-87.
The game tipped off at 11:30 a.m. and began without redshirt senior Jeremiah Davis and junior guard Naiel Smith in the starting lineup. This is the first time all season head coach James Whitford elected to start without either point guard.
“We had to get better defensively at the point guard position,” Whitford said. “We stuck with it because [Eastern Michigan] was going to play 40 minutes of zone.”
Smith saw 15 minutes of action Jan. 23 but only registered 3 points. Davis was a healthy scratch from the lineup, as Whitford made a “coach’s decision” to not use him.
Sophomore guard Jeremie Tyler averages 18.1 minutes in his usual bench role, but got the starting nod in the game where he scored 17 points. He shot 3-6 from behind the 3-point line against Eastern Michigan's 2-3 zone.
“The decision to slide [Kiapway] to the ‘one’ and start me at the ‘two’ was because of the style Eastern plays,” Tyler said. “The gameplan was really to make sure we could defend the guards.”
Kiapway, the usual starting shooting guard, did a majority of the ball handling against the Eastern Michigan 2-3 zone.
He took advantage of Eastern Michigan’s zone coverage by hitting seven 3-pointers; 21 of his 22 total points came from long range.
Kiapway also had two assists, two steals and two turnovers.
“This was my first time playing the 'one' the whole game, so I was kind of nervous,” Kiapway said. “After my first turnover, everyone told me I was good.”
Raven Lee, who leads the Eagles with 15.8 points per game, only managed to score 3 points in his 12 minutes of action.
Ty Toney and James Thompson IV had 23 points apiece for the Eagles. Thompson scored most of his points in the post, forcing Ball State junior guard Franko House to get three early fouls.
Thompson made all nine of his free-throw attempts and added 14 rebounds before fouling out of the game during the second half.
House would go on picking up his fourth foul, but finished the game with 15 points and five rebounds in 29 minutes.
Senior guard Bo Calhoun started as the other big and played 35 minutes before fouling out shortly after Thompson IV did. Calhoun finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds, four of which came on the offensive side.
Redshirt junior Ryan Weber rounded out the starting lineup, finishing with 5 points and seven rebounds in 44 minutes of play.
Freshman forward/center Trey Moses finished with a career-high 12 points but had eight turnovers as a result of the zone the lengthy Eastern Michigan team played.
Ball State travels to Buffalo on Jan. 26 to face off against the Bulls. The game tips off at 7 p.m.