Junior center Trey Moses celebrates after scoring during the game against Akron Jan. 27 in John E. Worthen Arena. The Cardinals won in double overtime 111-106. Eric Pritchett, DN
Ball State uses hot second half to fly past Bowling Green
Junior guard Tayler Persons put the finishing touches on Ball State men’s basketball’s hot-shooting second half with another game-winning 3-pointer to beat Bowling Green 59-56.
“I just hit a tough shot again to win the game, and I feel like in those situations I’m not really scared to miss,” Persons said. “I feel like that’s why I’m so good at those clutch moments, because I’m just not afraid if I miss it. So, I just let it go, hit another one and got a win, that’s the most important thing.”
The play wasn’t exactly the shot head coach James Whitford drew up, but he’s gotten used to seeing them drop this season.
The Cardinals play their next home game Friday, Feb. 9 against Kent State. Tip-off is at 9 p.m.
“My intention on that pick-and-roll was to get Tayler in a position to go downhill and get to the rim, and he keeps shooting threes,” Whitford said. “It’s hard for me to get mad because they keep going in. It’s amazing.”
When they went to the locker room at halftime, the Cardinals had shot just 11-31 from the field and 1-11 from beyond the arc. Bowling Green (14-10, 5-6 MAC) was in a much different situation from 3-point range, having shot 6-15 from deep.
The script was quickly flipped in the second half.
Ball State (15-9, 6-5 MAC) locked down the perimeter and played with higher intensity throughout the final 20 minutes, holding Bowling Green to 1-10 shooting from 3-point range in the second half.
“I thought what changed was our pick-and-roll coverage was better,” Whitford said. “In the second half it was much better, and I thought that was a big difference. Kyle [Mallers], Sean [Sellers] and Josh [Thompson] did a good job guarding the ball.”
Not only did Ball State suffocate Bowling Green on the perimeter in the second half, but the team found a rhythm of its own from deep. Led by Persons, the Cardinals shot an efficient 5-9 from behind the arc in the second half and 11-22 from the field in the final 20 minutes.
“When we started this game flat after the last game, I was deeply disappointed,” Whitford said. “In the end, I thought we played as hard as we’ve played with the enthusiasm that looked like a team that was trying to win.”
Aside from the clutch three from Persons, senior guard Sean Sellers hit a big triple that energized the crowd and gave Ball State its first lead of the second half with 3:59 remaining in the game.
“Our crowd gives us pretty good energy, we’ve had a really good crowd all season, and that’s something we can feed off of and give us an extra boost,” Sellers said.
Sellers was quick to credit the post players for getting the ball to shooters despite the first-half struggles.
“It says a lot about our team, you know, our post guys still feeding us the ball when we’re not shooting well, but always having confidence in ourselves to make those shots.”
Sellers finished with seven points, seven rebounds, two steals and two blocks in 30 minutes. Persons finished with 15 points and five assists on 3-6 from deep in his 30 minutes, including his game-winner.
Ball State will return to Worthen Arena Friday, Feb. 9 to take on Kent State. The opening tip is scheduled for 9 p.m.