Win attributed to Echols, 'practice-like' play

Chris Williams leads team in scoring with 23 points, Cameron Echols adds 18

To just about every person involved in Saturday's game between Ball State and Wright State, there were two reasons Ball State won, 66-59 -- Cameron Echols, and Ball State's "practice-like" play.

Echols dominated Saturday as he set a new Worthen Arena record, tugging down 22 rebounds, seven of which were offensive boards. Not only did the junior forward own the rebounding game, Echols finished with 18 points shooting 50 percent from the field making nine-of-18 shots.

"He just made some tremendous plays," Wright State coach Ed Schilling said. "We knew going in that we had to really do a phenomenal job boxing him out. We know that he is a stud athlete. He has very very long, active arms."

Seth Doliboa, the game's leading scorer with 26 points, was one of the players fighting Echols for rebounds throughout the afternoon. When Doliboa, who finished with 10 boards, was asked about Echols performance he looked down at the stat sheet in front of him and paused.

"Wow, that's a lot," Doliboa said. "I didn't know he had that many. He's a good player."

Echols said his success on the boards Saturday came in part from the continued work in practice on grabbing offensive boards.

"We always do a rebounding drill where we put a man on the block and we have to get the offensive rebound," Echols said. "I just tried to do that today."

Ball State's other contributing factor in the win Saturday, "practice-like" play, is something Buckley has been asking for from his team for quite some time.

Senior Chris Williams said it felt good to finally play with that level of intensity during an actual game.

"We practice so hard but when we get in the games we never do that," Williams said. "I think we did do that today. I'm proud of everybody on this team because of that."

Buckley expressed that he was equally proud of his team's effort.

"We finally played with practice intensity," Buckley said. "That's how we practice everyday. We haven't played with that kind of intensity in our games yet."

Aiding Ball State (4-2) on the offensive side of the ball was Williams who finished with a team-high 23 points shooting 7-of-7 from the free-throw line, an area other Cardinals struggled with Saturday. Echols finished the game missing all four of his free throw attempts, all of which came in the last 15 seconds of the game. Robert Owens and Michael Bennett were both 0-2 from the charity stripe.

Shooting well from the line, other than Williams, was sophomore Matt McCollom who finished the game making five of his six shots. McCollom also scored in double-digits for the second straight game, this time with 15 points.

"He understands his role this year," Buckley said of McCollom. "That is to run the club and make open shots when they are there."

Both teams struggled making shots in the first half, not just from the free throw line, but everywhere.

Ball State finished the first half shooting 30 percent from the field while the Raiders went into the locker room at the half shooting only 28 percent from the field. That was after Wright State's shooting percentage had gotten as low as 18 percent at one point in the first half.

Vernard Hollins, who finished with 22 points for Wright State (4-1), said he couldn't "throw it in the ocean" and Ball State's Williams shared his frustration when it came to first half shooting woes.

"We couldn't hit anything," Williams said. "Some nights you just aren't going to put the ball in the hole. That's why we just had to hunker down on defense which led to great offense in the second half."

All in all, Ball State left Worthen Arena Saturday feeling good about its win. Wright State came into the game undefeated, having previously defeated two Mid-American Conference schools in Miami (Ohio) and Akron.

"I am really proud of our guys, this is a big win," Buckley said. "Wright State has an excellent basketball team. They run their offense as well as any one we'll play."

After the game, Schilling took time to show the same type of admiration for Ball State's performance.

"We are very impressed with the intensity and the athletes of the Ball State team," Schilling said. "They really came through and had some tremendous athletic plays when they turned on the momentum."


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