Ball State couldn’t find its way in the paint. 

At the end of the first half, Ball State (10-5, 1-1 MAC) scored two points in the paint, compared to Buffalo’s 22 to enter the half down 43-25.

“I think we got rattled and kind of lost our composure, especially in the first half,” head coach James Whitford said.

Beyond in the paint, the team struggled to put the ball in the net, entirely.

The Cardinals shot 24.2% from the field in the first half, to make up just under half of the Bull’s 47.4% of shots made from the field. Ball State finished the game 23-63 from the field, while Buffalo finished 31-65. 

“It’s misleading,” Whitford said. “They’re not a great shot blocking team, it’s more physicality and toughness. They have some good athletes, but they don’t dominate you with their athleticism. They’re physically very strong and play very physical and screen the heck out of you.”

When the Cardinals could get through a tough Bull’s defense into the paint, they struggled to hold onto the ball and finish. Buffalo (10-5, 2-0 MAC) finished the game with 10 turnovers, for 24 points. 

In a rebound matchup where a physical Buffalo squad made it hard for Ball State to get the ball off the glass, the Bulls outrebounded the Cardinals 44-34.

“Rebounding was a big one,” senior forward Sean Sellers said. “They’re more physical and I think that’s the biggest thing, being more physical. In the first half when they punched us in the mouth, I feel like we kind of disbanded a little bit.”

Even with the strong fight the Cardinals put up in the second half, the early numbers put them in too tough of a rut to get out of. 

Junior center Trey Moses made his first shot of the afternoon to open the second half for the Cardinals, which started a trend in the paint, at least compared to the first half. Moses finished with six points, including a dunk. After going 0-5 from the field in the first half, Moses finished 3-4 in the second half before getting into foul trouble.

“You got their guards trying to run through screens and they’re big physical guys,” Moses said. “They’re a tough team and that’s what they pride themselves on. We feel like we’re a tough team and we try to outplay teams with hustle plays, but we just didn’t bring that today.”

Although the second half opened a window in the paint for the Cardinals, the Bulls physicality didn’t slow down.

“There were a couple balls we needed to dive on and not boxing out, those are things that are fixable,” Moses said. “It’s just all about heart in this one.”

If the Cardinals only scored 16 points in the paint the second half, where did Ball State’s points come from? 

With a first half that allowed just two points in the paint, the points came from behind the arc. The team finished the first half with four successful three-pointers—the same as Buffalo. Ball State put up 27 points beyond the arc. 

Sellers made five three-pointers in the second half, draining two in under a minute to start the second half. Sellers led the team with 17 points, almost all beyond the arc. 

The Cardinals finished with 18 of its 63 points in the paint, compared to the Bull's 34 of its 83.

Ball State will get deeper into Mid-American Conference play when it travels to Ohio on Tuesday for a 7 p.m. tipoff. 

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