Tayler Persons leads comeback in Ball State men's basketball's win over Stony Brook
Tayler Persons didn’t wait this time.
The junior lead Ball State (1-2) to a 87-76 victory over Stony Brook (0-3) after recording 10 points in the first half and closed out the game with 19 in the second, for a total of 29.
This was the first time that Persons has scored more than two points in the first half of a game this season.
"I thought we took what the defense gave us and that we had to go inside tonight," head coach James Whitford said. "Tayler had to shoot a lot of shots tonight because they weren’t allowing him to draw a second defender and pass. I thought that was really the difference."
After a strong start to the game, Persons returned from the locker room after the first half with the energy that Ball State needed to grab its first win of the season.
However, the Seawolves held an eight-point 42-34 lead over the Cardinals at the half.
Persons entered the second period with a pair of layups in back-to-back runs, while grabbing a steal that would result in a three-pointer from sophomore Kyle Mallers to put the Cardinals within three, 49-46.
"I felt like there was definitely [sense of urgency] when we’re down eight and I thought we played okay in the first half," Persons said. "Our defense was a little suspect and the second half we came out there and got the stops that we needed and scored on offense. There’s definitely a sense of urgency, but you can’t lose your mind, it’s a long game."
Persons never looked back as he scored his second three-pointer of the game with 5:19 left to play to give the Cardinals a 70-64 lead. He went on to sink another shot to extend the Cardinals lead 76-69 with just over three minutes remaining in the game.
"I definitely came out there tonight with a mindset to attack and not necessarily score more, but be more aggressive just getting in the teeth of the defense," Persons said. "I had six turnovers, I need to get that down, but I’ll live with my mindset today and I felt really good out there."
In Ball State’s season opener against Dayton, Persons didn’t record a single point in his 13 minutes of play in the first half, and put up 14 in the second half. In Wednesday’s game against Oklahoma, Persons totaled four points in the loss, with just two points in each half.
In tonight’s contest against Stony Brook, Persons went 12-18 in field goals, 2-5 from behind the arc and had a pair of assists in the 34 minutes of action he saw.
"Generally speaking with us, we’re better when Tayler has high assists and low turnovers, Whitford said. "We’re at our best when he’s a playmaker and the difference was tonight that their defense was very unique. It’s not like it was easy for him to get assists because he had nobody to pass to."
Person's 29 points fell just short of his career-best 32 points, which he recorded last year in an overtime 109-100 win over Central Michigan last year.
After the first three games of this season, Persons is averaging 15.7 points per game.
“We bounced back from a loss that we don’t really want to talk about in Oklahoma," Persons said. "We bounced back and worked hard in practice and came today and played hard. Coach is stressing to us about the process and just playing and going every day and just embracing it. I feel like that’s what we did and we played hard and I’m really happy to get a win."
Persons and the team will continue their season as they begin a two-game road trip to wrap up play in the ESPN's Phil Knight Tournament at Oregon on Sunday.
Contact Kara Biernat with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @karabiernat.