MEN'S BASKEBALL: Ball State knocks off Southeast Missouri 87-83

Senior forward Chris Bond attempts the layup against Southeast Missouri on Monday at Worthen Arena. Bond scored a career-high 20 points in the win. DN PHOTO MARCEY BURTON
Senior forward Chris Bond attempts the layup against Southeast Missouri on Monday at Worthen Arena. Bond scored a career-high 20 points in the win. DN PHOTO MARCEY BURTON

This men’s basketball team will go as far as the seniors carry it, head coach James Whitford has said.

After the second half performance against Southeast Missouri, that could be further than most expected.

Seniors Jesse Berry, Majok Majok and Chris Bond combined for 32 of Ball State’s 47 second half points and helped cap an 87-83 win.

“We won this game because of [the seniors], no question,” Whitford said. “We’ve got a long road ahead of us … but I’m telling you, we’re getting better, and if we stay on this path, we’re going to be a team nobody wants to play in February.”

After a slow start, which he likened to the dismal performance against Marian University in the exhibition game, Ball State quickly found itself down 2-11, shooting just 1-of-9 from the field and committing four turnovers. The Cardinals looked flat early without all-conference big man Majok in the starting lineup after missing a class this week.

Majok and Berry were held scoreless until just six minutes were left in the first half.

Whitford went to his bench for the spark, specifically his youth. The lineup of four freshmen: Zavier Turner, Mark Alstork, Quinten Payne and Franko House and sophomore Bo Calhoun ignited a 12-2 run midway through the half and regrouped the Cardinals.

“Just calming down was it,” said Turner, who hit two three-pointers and found Alstork for a dunk in the run. “Once we calmed down, everything took care of itself with us just playing our game.”

Ball State held onto the lead until late in the second half, finding success against a variety of match-up zones and man-to-man defenses employed by Southeast Missouri.

But when the Redhawks switched to a 1-2-2 full-court press, the Cardinals looked rattled, taken out of their sets that had been successful in transition and in the half court.

With 7:08 remaining, Ball State trailed 61-62 for the first time in more than 20 minutes of game time. That’s when the seniors took over.

“It was a big win, collectively,” said Berry, who passed Peyton Stovall for No. 3 all-time in Ball State history for three-pointers made with 165. “A lot of guys stepped up and a lot of guys made plays.”

No play was bigger than Bond’s put-back dunk off a free throw miss from Berry that put Ball State up 72-71, a lead the Cardinals would not relinquish again, for two of his career-high 20 points.

“I saw nobody crashed,” Bond said with a smile, recounting two of his seven points in the last four minutes. “I thought [Berry] was going to hit it, but I still just crashed, and I got it — it was just off instinct.”

Turner knocked down four straight foul shots with less than a minute left to ice the game for Ball State. The clutch free throws gave Turner 19 points for the game and made him the first Ball State freshman to score at least 17 points in three straight games since Jim Fields in 1975-76.

Comments