Junior guard Tayler Persons attempts a lay-up during the game against Akron Jan. 27 in John E. Worthen Arena. Persons made nine of his 23 attempted goals. Eric Pritchett, DN
Offenses explode as Ball State tops Akron in double OT
If you love high-powered offense, buzzer-beating shots and electric atmospheres, this was the game for you.
Ball State men’s basketball fought for a thrilling double overtime victory, beating Akron (10-10, 3-5 MAC) by a score of 111-106. The combined 217 points were the most ever scored in a game at Worthen Arena.
“That was a great win,” head coach James Whitford said. “Eventually we broke their back inside. We consistently got the ball into the box and we drew a ton of fouls. Trey [Moses] and Tahjai [Teague] [went] 14-25 from the field, I thought that was a big part of the game.”
Redshirt sophomore Tahjai Teague turned in his third double-double of the season, finishing with career-highs in points (26), rebounds (11 tied his career-high) and assists (six) on an efficient 9-17 shooting from the field in 44 minutes.
Teague had big moments in the second half. He started the half with a personal 8-0 run to regain the lead for the Cardinals, grabbing two offensive rebounds right off the bat and getting a few easy baskets in the paint.
“Every day I just try to work, get comfortable in the post and I saw that they were small, so I tried to take advantage and keep posting up and doing what I practice,” Teague said.
Overall, the Cardinals finished with 40 points in the paint. As a team, Ball State (13-8, 4-4 MAC) made a season-high 34 shots to help them shoot a solid 50 percent from the field. The team is undefeated (8-0) when it shoots 50 percent or better from the floor.
Junior guard Tayler Persons was big on the offensive end of the floor yet again, scoring 26 points in his 44 minutes, as well as hitting some clutch shots down the stretch of the second half to help push the game into overtime, including two game-tying free throws with 10 seconds remaining.
After a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Akron’s junior guard Jimond Ivey forced the game into a second overtime, it looked like Ball State might have been in trouble. They had lost two consecutive games and the momentum had shifted. But the players weren’t about to hang their heads.
“You just have to keep playing, like coach said,” Persons said. “We believe in our coach and have a lot of love for him. He preaches the same thing every day, just to get better and we’ve been dealt a lot of difficult situations right now, so we just have to focus on one game at a time.”
When double overtime came around, the Cardinals were able to answer the call, finishing with a win despite a 48-point performance from Ivey, the most points ever scored by a player in Worthen Arena.
Junior center Trey Moses scored an important six points in the second overtime, finishing with a career-high 22 points to go along with 11 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season. Moses also shot 12-14 from the free throw line, both career-highs.
Sophomore forward Kyle Mallers also topped his previous career-high in points, finishing with 18 on 5-7 shooting and 3-4 from long range. Overall, five different Cardinals finished in double figures on a day filled with Worthen Arena records and career-highs.
Ball State will be on the road for its next two Mid-American Conference matchups. Next up is a stop at Toledo to face a Rockets team that is 6-1 in conference play. The opening tip of that game will be at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 30.