Ball State’s 82-76 victory over Central Michigan (12-6, 1-4 MAC) was fueled by its defensive rhythm behind the arc. 

Statistically, this is the best game the Cardinals have had when defending Mid-American Conference teams from deep. 

Ball State (12-6, 3-2 MAC) allowed Central Michigan to shoot just 33.3 percent from behind the arc, the lowest percent they’ve held a MAC team to all season, only comparable to when Ball State held Eastern Michigan to 38.1 percent from behind the 3-point line on Jan. 2. 

“I thought it was a good win for us,” head coach Whitford said. “We defended well in the first half and they got going, Luke Meyer did a little bit in the second half and they’re certainly capable of doing that. They kept it close, but good win for us.”

The Chippewas shot 2-13, for just 15.4 percent behind the arc in the first half. If it wasn’t for Central Michigan forward Luke Meyer, the Cardinals would have had a blowout defensive performance from deep. Meyer nailed in five 3-pointers and had 23 points in the second half. 

Coming into tonight’s matchup, Meyer has made three shots from behind the arc in his last four MAC games, but finished tonight’s game 6-10 from deep and recorded 26 points.

“Luke Meyer can really create problems for you,” Whitford said. “He’s never had a shooting night like he did tonight and when he does, it is a really hard thing to deal with because he’s 6 [foot] 10 and he really hurt us tonight from behind the arc and we knew there was a chance that could happen.”

Despite the challenge of defending Meyer on the court, the Cardinals still showed promise defending beyond the arc. 

Central Michigan forward David DiLeo and guard Josh Kozinski combined for a single 3-point shot on 10 attempts. Whitford praises his team for holding the duo like it did. 

“Those guys are such great shooters that if they shoot 18 3’s in a game, you’ve got a problem and the fact that we held them to 10 attempts, between the two of them, that was a really good sign for us,” Whitford said. 

What Central Michigan lacked in shots made behind the arc, Ball State made up for. 

Seniors guards Sean Sellers and Jeremie Tyler combined for the first 12 points made in the game, which all came from behind the 3-point line. 

Tyler led the Ball State roster with 21 points and shot 5-10 behind the arc. Junior center Trey Moses followed with 13 points, while junior guard Tayler Persons followed with 12. 

“It’s always good for someone to come off the bench and provide the energy that I did today,” Tyler said. “I give it to my teammates, they made the pass and I was just lucky enough to be open to hit it.”

Overall, the team shot 10-27 from behind the arc, a number only comparable to its game against Indiana State when Ball State went 11-19 beyond the 3-point line. 

In a game centered around the 3-point line, Ball State ultimately came out on top. 

Ball State will hop back on the road Saturday Jan. 20 when it faces Ohio.  

Contact Kara Biernat with comments at karabiernat@gmail.com or on Twitter at @karabiernat.