Ball State's guard Francis Kiapway attempts to pass the ball to a teammate during the game against Miami on Jan. 10 at Worthen Arena. The men's basketball team won 85-74. Terence K. Lightning Jr. // DN
RECAP: Ball State men’s basketball vs. Miami Redhawks
Ball State men’s basketball played the right game and made the right plays when they needed to against the Miami RedHawks Jan. 10. Earning the team's first Mid-American Conference victory, the Cardinals defeated the RedHawks by a score of 85-74.
High energy and good communication led to the execution on the floor for the Cardinals.
Ball State: Franko House — 20
Miami: Michael Weathers — 22
Ball State: Tahjai Teague — 8
Miami: Logan McLane — 7
Ball State: Tayler Persons — 5
Miami: Michael Weathers, Logan McLane — 3
“Our guys really came ready to play,” head coach James Whitford said. “If you look at their numbers in the first half, 26 percent from the field 18 percent from three, I thought we really defended well.”
In the beginning of the first half, Miami kept the game close, even taking a 14-13 lead at the 11:46 mark. But that did not last long when Ball State went on an eight-point run, including back-to-back 3-pointers from senior forward Ryan Weber and redshirt sophomore guard Tayler Persons, stretching the lead to 21-14.
The Cardinals did not allow Miami to connect on a field goal in the final five minutes of the first half. They managed only two free throws, and as a result the Cardinals took a 43-26 lead into halftime.
“In the second half I wasn’t as happy with our defense,” Whitford said.
The RedHawks did not go away easily in the second half, closing the Cardinals' lead to nine on a couple occasions. With 8:55 to go, Miami freshman guard Michael Weathers hit two free throws to bring Miami within nine, 61-52. But the 3-point shooting from junior guard Francis Kiapway, junior guard Jeremie Tyler and sophomore Tahjai Teague kept the lead for Ball State.
Kiapway finished with 13 points, Tyler finished with 10 points and Teague finished with 11 points to go along with senior forward Franko House’s 20 points and Persons' 12 points.
“In the second half there was a stretch where we couldn’t get enough stops,” Whitford said. “We were fortunate enough to make enough shots to sustain our lead.”
Miami outscored Ball State in the second half 48-42 but the strong first half start kept the game out of reach for the RedHawks.
Whitford spoke about the team's approach to this game after a tough loss to Bowling Green.
“Our attitude, our mentality, you know, not going to be perfect, but it was a lot better,” Whitford said. “Overall I thought it was a really good effort.”
Ball State will be on the road for the next Mid-American Conference matchup as they travel to Buffalo to take on the Bulls Jan. 14.