RECAP: Ball State men's basketball vs. Eastern Michigan
The Cardinals are getting used to playing from behind.
Ball State men's basketball (18-10, 9-6 MAC) won its third comeback game in a row against a Mid-American Conference West Division opponent Tuesday night, defeating Eastern Michigan (13-15, 5-10) 79-72.
"The encouraging thing for me in today's game is that our defense is getting better," head coach James Whitford said. "I was pleased and proud of our guys for defending to the level that we did to allow ourselves to climb back into the game."
Ball State stats:
Field goal percentage: 42.3 percent
Leading scorers: Franko House, Tayler Persons — 16
Eastern Michigan stats:
Field goal percentage: 36.9 percent
Leading scorer: Willie Magnum IV — 26
The Eagles went on a 22-2 run to stretch out a 31-12 lead with 6:34 left in the first half, but the Cardinals went on a 19-4 run to bring the game within four at halftime 35-31.
With a quick 4 points from senior forward Franko House, the game was tied at 35-35 with 18:59 left in the second and Eastern Michigan and the Ball State started to trade baskets.
The Cardinals didn't start to pull away until the 4:52 mark.
Senior forward Ryan Weber secured three offensive rebounds in a row after a missed free throw from sophomore forward Trey Moses and a pair of 3-point misses from junior forward Sean Sellers and junior guard Francis Kiapway. House then found Weber for a 3-ball to put Ball State up 59-53.
"It kind of happened pretty fast," Weber said. "Right before that play happened in the last timeout coach [Jason Grunkemeyer] said something to me and I need to get my nose in there and rebound, so I just tried making a conscious effort."
Weber hit another 3-pointer to increase the lead to 62-56 on Ball State's next possession and Eastern Michigan didn't pull within 4 points for the rest of the game.
The Cardinals are now tied for the third-best record in the conference after Buffalo (15-13, 9-6 MAC) lost Tuesday night.
With three games left and a one-game lead over Western Michigan (12-15, 8-7 MAC) in the MAC West Division, House said he understands the season isn't over yet.
"I mean, we were kind of at this point last year and we lost three straight," House said. "It really isn't anything yet."