Offense shines in Ball State's exhibition win over Saint Francis
One thing became clear after Ball State’s 91-67 exhibition win over Saint Francis (Ind.) – the Cardinals have a lot of offensive weapons.
Of the eleven players who saw action for Cardinals, 10 of them finished with at least one basket in the victory 24-point win over the NAIA opponent.
“I thought everybody that played tonight did a good job, for sure,” Ball State head coach James Whitford said. “They challenged us in different ways … they spread you out and they can shoot it so well that if you make a mistake, they make you pay so quick.”
Ball State maintained a comfortable lead throughout the game, but Saint Francis made things interesting midway through the second half, coming within eight points of the Cardinals. That effort came off the Cougars 8-for-10 3-point performance to open the half.
The Cardinal’s offense had no shortage of points throughout the game, though.
Ball State shot 55 percent from the field and 12-26 from behind the arc, nine of which came in the first half. After Saint Francis made defensive adjustments in the second, Ball State increased its play down low, scoring 26 of its 38 total points in the paint.
“We can shoot it for sure, and we have to find ways [to adjust] when they take that away,” Whitford said. “In the second half, we got it inside a lot more and part of that was dictating where they were defending.”
Four different Ball State players finished with more than 10 points in the game, redshirt junior Jontrell Walker led the way with 14, followed closely behind by sophomore Tahjai Teague (13), junior Tayler Persons (13) and freshman Zach Gunn (12).
Both Teague and Gunn finished with double-doubles, pulling down 12 and 11 rebounds, respectively.
“It felt good to get back out there and play against somebody different than we do in practice,” Teague said. “I think we did pretty good, got a lot of things to improve.”
Offensively, Ball State committed 12 turnovers throughout the course of the game.
One of the improvement points that players pointed out post game was defense. Ball State gave up 12 3-pointers, eight of which came in the first part of the second half. Persons said stopping the outside shooting threat was one of the key parts to improve upon on defense.
“[Saint Francis] shot the lights out in the second half and that was really the difference in the game,” Persons said. “We’ve just got to run the line and some of our big guys, Tahjai and Zach, they did a good job down there.”
Ball State returns to action at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 10 to open up its regular season against the University of Dayton.
Contact men's basketball reporter Robby General with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @rgeneraljr