The sixth win in the last seven Mid-American Conference games for Ball State did not come easy as the Cardinals came back from an 11-point deficit to beat Toledo 81-80.

Redshirt freshman Tahjai Teague provided the spark the Cardinals needed.

“I was just hoping my team won,” Teague said. “It was fun. I was having fun out there. Just wanted to chip away at the lead.”

Tahaji Teague stats:





At the first media timeout in the first half, Ball State was shooting just 14.3 percent from the field and were trailing 10-3.

On his first possession of the game, Teague made his presence felt with a steal. On his second offensive possession, Teague scored the first two points of his career high 16.

Head coach James Whitford said Teague's play off the bench was big for the Cardinals and part of what makes him so good is his passion for basketball.

“He loves playing basketball," Whitford said. "He loves it. He wants to be a really good player for sure, but he just loves playing, it's like he is at the park.”

Ball State outscored Toledo’s bench 23-11 with the 16 from Teague.

Scoring 16 points, grabbing three rebounds and forcing one turnover, Teague played only 10 minutes, fouling out with 7:52 left to play.

“I just told them when I did foul out, just win the game so we could be happy and have fun,” Teague said.

Redshirt sophomore point guard Tayler Persons said the depth on the bench is why Ball State is so successful and that Teague sometimes doesn’t understand how good he is.

“We know what type of player Tahjai can be. I don’t think he realizes how good he can be,” Persons said. “He just scored 16 points and had three rebounds in 10 minutes, that is pretty productive.”

With Teague’s productivity comes learning curves. Redshirting his freshman season, this is Teague’s first season in game play since high school and is still making adjustments to game play.

“It still feels weird every time I go out there,” Teague said. “I just try and take it day by day and game by game and play the best I can.”

With 16 points and three rebounds in 10 minutes, it is hard to imagine how much better Teague could perform — but Whitford knows it will happen.

Teague may say it still feels weird every time he plays, but Whitford believes he has settled down on the court compared to being nervous in the beginning of the season.

“He is certainly going to keep getting better,” Whitford said. “He is shooting the ball well right now but he is going to keep getting better as a shooter, and you look back a year from now and he is going to be 15-20 pounds of muscle added to his frame and when that happens you have a chance to see a significantly improved step.”