Freshman forward Sean Sellers scored 16 points for Ball State and had four rebounds. Ball State fell to 2-3 in the MAC. DN PHOTO KAYLEEN BAKER
Ball State breaks school record for 3-pointers in 115-79 win
The Ball State men's basketball team turned in a record-breaking performance on Saturday afternoon.
The Cardinals scored their most points since 1989, and hit a school-record 18 3-pointers in a 115-79 rout of Eastern Michigan at Worthen Arena. Ball State (19-10, 10-6 Mid-American Conference) kept its hold on the MAC West Division with the victory.
It was the first time Ball State has scored 100 points against a Division I opponent since 2003 against Akron.
“We played the best game of the year,” Ball State head coach James Whitford said. “It started with how we set the tone within the first four minutes and we were able to keep that going, it surprised everyone, including me.”
After the last meeting between the teams produced a dramatic finish in double overtime, tempers flared to start the game on Saturday.
Within the first five minutes of the contest, Eastern Michigan was called for three technical fouls and Ball State jumped out 17-4 lead.
The Eagles were called for five technical fouls over the course of the game.
The Cardinals took advantage of the second-worst scoring defense in the MAC, hitting 18-of-39 shots from beyond the arc. Sophomore Sean Sellers led the charge, scoring 26 points on 7-of-11 from deep.
Sellers, who was the MAC Freshman of the Year last season, is averaging just over 20 minutes per game this season.
“This game is the product of him [Sellers] doing the right thing for a couple months in a row,” Whitford said. “It has been hard for Sean to overcome his diminished role, but at some point every player has to go through it, and his maturity and mentality has helped him emerge out of it.”
Ball State hit 10 of its 3-pointers on the way to a 61-41 halftime lead.
The Cardinals' 256 3-point makes this season rank second most in program history.
“I mean, when our guards are hitting shots like that it gives us more space in the paint,” junior forward Franko House said. “We are able to move around more and that makes for an easier shot.”
House scored a career-high 20 points and hauled in 10 rebounds.
The Cardinals won the rebounding battle 47 to 30, something coach Whitford knew would be crucial for a win.
“We knew we would not beat Eastern Michigan in the turnover battle,” Whitford said. “We talked a lot about how we can make up for that on glass and we did. We dominated them on the glass and I think that really broke their spirit.”
Eastern Michigan had fewer turnovers, but Ball State was efficient offensively shooting 55.1 percent and picking up 30 assists. The Cardinals also scored 26 second-chance points.
“When we were getting second and third shots I think it was really frustrating for them and it broke them down," Whitford said.
Ball State had nine players in the scoring category today with six in double figures.
With the win, Ball State is still in sole possession of first in the MAC West and controls its own destiny with only two games remaining. The Cardinals move back into a position for a bye to the quarterfinals of the MAC Tournament.
Ball State will be back in action March 1 at home against Central Michigan. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.