Ball State stays unbeaten at home with 79-65 victory over North Florida
The Cardinals showed no signs of rust after a 10-day layoff.
Ball State defeated North Florida 79-65 with the help of a stat sheet-stuffing performance from junior center Trey Moses, who finished the game with 15 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and a pair of blocks to go along with 7-9 shooting from the field.
“[Moses] is terrific,” head coach James Whitford said. “He’s always been a great passer against the zone. It was good for us to get the ball into the post and he probably bailed us out a little bit when we weren’t playing very well in our man-to-man offense.”
The five assists came as no surprise to Moses.
“That’s a role I’ve played my whole life when teams play zone, I’m normally in the middle because of my passing ability,” Moses said. “Our guys were finishing well around the rim and hitting shots so that makes my job easier.”
Sophomore forward Tahjai Teague complemented Moses’s big night with a double-double of his own, recording 11 points and 10 rebounds. Teague’s biggest play of the game gave Ball State some much-needed life as North Florida seemed to have seized the momentum.
With North Florida in the midst of a 14-0 run in the second half, Teague rebounded a blocked shot and ran the floor on a one-man fast break and had only sophomore Noah Horchler to beat. Teague not only beat Horchler, he put himself on a poster and woke up both the crowd at Worthen Arena and the rest of the team in the process.
The dunk sparked a 9-0 Ball State run, to essentially put the game out of reach.
“I knew he was going to jump, I just tried to pull it far back so he at least didn’t block it and I just threw it down at the end and got back on defense,” Teague said.
Dunks were a common theme in a high-flying game at Worthen Arena. In the first half, senior guard Jeremie Tyler caught a lob from junior guard Jontrell Walker that appeared to be going out of bounds, but instead he was able to elevate and flush it home to finish off a 13-0 Ball State run.
“I’d put that in my top five [dunks], definitely,” Tyler said.
Coach Whitford was also impressed by Tyler’s dunk, calling the catch “ridiculous.”
Although Ball State didn’t shoot up to its potential from beyond the arc at just 30 percent, it was able to make up for it by shooting 49 percent overall and playing strong defense.
North Florida came into the game ranked fourth nationally in 3-pointers made and attempted, but Ball State held them to 29.6 percent on 8-27 shooting from deep.
“What I really liked about tonight’s win is I thought our defense was very focused,” Whitford said. “We had some moments on offense that weren’t as good. We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well from behind the arc. Our half court defense I thought was exceptional and that was something I was proud of, so it was a good win.”
Ball State defended without fouling consistently throughout the game, holding North Florida to just three free throw attempts and one make from the charity stripe.
Sophomore forward Kyle Mallers and junior guard Tayler Persons rounded out Ball State’s double-digit scorers with 14 and 13 points, respectively.
Ball State kept up a familiar trend during its now six-game winning streak, dominating the glass. The Cardinals finished the night with a 47-33 rebounding advantage, while the team collectively dished out a season-high 25 assists.
Ball State will be back in Worthen Arena Friday Dec. 22 to host Jackson State in the third game of its six-game home stand. Tip-off will be at 7 p.m.