Senior guard Jeremie Tyler attempts to pass a Buffalo player during the game on Jan. 6 in John E. Worthen Arena. Kaiti Sullivan, DN File
Balanced play leads to Ball State's 82-76 win over Central Michigan
A Trey Moses layup followed by a 3-pointer from the corner, a quick steal and fast break dunk all from Jeremie Tyler. It was a 39-second, 7-point run that gave Ball State an 11-point lead, its second largest lead of the night, with about five minutes remaining against Central Michigan.
A short run, followed by yet another answer from the Chippewas. That was the story Tuesday night as Ball State (12-6, 3-2 MAC) went on to beat Mid-American Conference West Division rival Central Michigan (12-6, 1-4 MAC). Ball State's six-point, 82-76 win could have been larger, however, according to head coach James Whitford.
"I have a lot respect for their team because their effort going to the glass was relentless," Whitford said. "No question that was the story in the first half. If you said, 'Hey, we were up six in the first half, but why weren't we up nine or 10 or 11?' Because they got too many second shots.
"In the second half we closed that down a little bit, or it felt like we did. We got a little better and then Luke Meyer started banging 3's. Both of those kind of kept us from being able to put the game away."
Ball State led by six going into halftime despite Central Michigan shooting just 31.4 percent from the field and 15.4 percent from 3-point range. The Chippewas second half improvement came mainly form Luke Meyer who went 6-10 from behind the arc, hitting 5-7 in the second half alone en route to his career-high 26 point performance.
On the boards, Central Michigan outrebounded Ball State 47-35, including a 21-8 advantage on offensive rebounds, which the Chippewas turned into 21 second chance points throughout the game.
"Central [Michigan] is a unique team ... you have four guys rebounding and the guards aren't used to boxing out," junior center Trey Moses said. "I felt that we've done a good job prior to this game as far as rebounding and, you know, there was a couple tonight where we felt like we got out-toughed on."
Moses finished the game with 11 total rebounds, including five offensive boards, and 13 total points in his 28 minutes of play. Ball State's disadvantage on the boards was subsided by senior guard Jeremie Tyler who scored a team-high 21 points on a 5-10 shooting night from 3-point range.
The Cardinals had five scorers — Tyler (21), Moses (13), Tayler Persons (12), Sean Sellers (11) and Tahjai Teague (10) — finish in double digits on the night. Finding open targets early on in the game, Ball State went 6-10 from behind the arc in the first 10 minutes as it broke open Central Michigan's full-court defense, something Tyler said they were prepared for.
"We drilled [the full-court press] many times in practice the past couple of days just to be comfortable with a team pressing like Central Michigan," Tyler said.
The 3-pointers subsided as Central Michigan adjusted to Ball State's game play. The Cardinals seemed to be able to find the right answers, particularly with Moses and sophomore forward Teague on the offensive side of the ball, who scored most of the team's 24 points in the paint, 16 of which came in the second half.
"I thought those guys did a very good job of getting the ball in because they were doubling a lot," Whitford said. "When [Central Michigan] didn't double, they figured it out and took good shots. When [Central Michigan] did double, they got the ball out and we were able to get the ball around and get the right guy to take the right shot."
As a unit, Ball State finished shooting 50 percent (29-58) from the field and 37 percent (10-27) from behind the arc. Ball State is back on the road for its next game against Miami (9-9, 2-3 MAC) on Jan. 20.