Ball State men’s basketball (14-7, 5-3 MAC) cracked an even battle against Western Michigan (6-14, 2-6 MAC) when junior forward Sean Sellers put up a dunk in the first half that fueled the team’s 84-78 victory.

Sellers's dunk came with six minutes left of the first half, resulting in a 36-29 lead for the Cardinals at halftime.

Cardinal leading scorers

Tayler Persons (24)

Franko House (18)

Sean Sellers (12)

“I thought this was a good win,” head coach James Whitford said. “When they cut the lead to four, we tried to get our pace back. We had three or four plays of transition that kind of opened it back up for us. I thought that was the difference in the game.”

The Cardinals had a 9-1 run late in the first half and kept the lead throughout the whole game. 

Redshirt sophomore guard Tayler Persons was the leading scorer for both teams with 24 points, six assists and three rebounds. He was 2-2 from beyond the arc, contributing to the Cardinal’s 56.3 3-point percentage.

“Tayler was great, especially in the first half,” Whitford said. “I thought we were great on offense in the first half and a lot of that had to do with him and his decisions he made in understanding how to play.”

Senior forward Franko House added 18 points for the Cardinals, while Sellers followed with 12.

The Broncos started to close the gap in the second half with an 8-0 run. With a 46-42 lead and 16:51 left in the game, Ball State fought back after forcing Western Michigan to call a timeout after three successful 3-point shots for the Cardinals.

Freshman forward Kyle Mallers was part of the 3-point train, marking his first field goal of conference play and giving the Cardinal’s a 13-point lead late in the second half.

“I thought Kyle did a great job,” Whitford said. “I told him right before the timeout, my man, if you’re open to shoot, you’re a great shooter, so shoot. I thought he helped us in both, first and second half.”

With another attempt to close the gap, Western Michigan ran into foul trouble late in the second half. The Broncos had 12 fouls in the half, allowing the Cardinals to keep their lead.

“I expected a hard game and we got one,” Whitford said. “We hung in there. I didn’t feel like our defense was as good as it needed to be.”

Ball State was able to hold off Western Michigan despite allowing Western Michigan leading scorer Thomas Wilder to put 19 points past the Cardinal defense.

Now winning five of their last six games in the MAC, the Cardinals will continue conference play at 7 p.m. Jan. 31 when they host Toledo in Worthen Arena.