Ball State Akron
Points: 47 59
Rebounds: 32 37
Assists: 12 12
Turnovers: 12 13
Despite seeing his team’s losing streak extended to five games after a 59-47 at Akron on Jan. 27, Ball State men’s basketball head coach James Whitford sees improvement.
“We were invested the right way,” Whitford said. “We competed, we fought, we did the things we can control to the best of our ability.”
Whitford expressed disappointment in his team’s full-game effort following Saturday’s double-digit home loss to Kent State, citing poor defense as one reason for the outcome.
Ball State responded early against Akron, jumping out to an 18-10 lead 12 minutes into the game. The zips answered, closing the first half on a 14-6 run and tying the score at halftime.
Making his second consecutive start for the injured Matt Kamieniecki, junior Bo Calhoun scored 10 first-half points and finished with a team-high 14.
Ball State scored the first four points of the second half, but Akron went on a 9-0 run, reclaiming a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
The Zips shot 41.8 percent for the game, including shooting 50 percent in the second half. The Cardinals shot 37.5 percent from the field and missed seven of their 12 free throw attempts.
“If we shoot the ball better today, make some free throws, it’s going to be a one or two possession game,” Whitford said. “Akron is the biggest and most physical team in [the Mid-American Conference].”
Without Kamieniecki, Ball State’s leading rebounder, Akron held a 37-32 advantage on the glass. Calhoun led Ball State with 12 rebounds, while sophomore Franko House added six.
The Zips also outscored the Cardinals in the post 28-22.
Cardinals’ point guard Zavier Turner remained out of the starting lineup, playing 21 minutes and scoring two points on two shot attempts. In the two games since his DNP coach’s decision against Ohio, Turner has averaged 22.5 minutes per game, 12 less than his season average.
With players having to play extended minutes to compensate for injury and rotation changes, Whitford thought fatigue played a factor against Akron.
“As we fatigued, I thought we started making more mistakes,” Whitford, whose team fell to 7-11 on the season, said. “We’re missing obviously [Kamieniecki], but it is what it is.”
Ball State will look to snap its losing streak Jan. 31 at Miami.
With a 2-5 MAC record, the Cardinals have an uphill climb if they are to challenge for a top seed in the conference tournament.
For now, effort for a full 40 minutes will do.
“We’re not going to win [every game],” Whitford said. “But we got to make sure we compete and show up every single time.”