Sophomore forward Kyle Mallers pushes down the court against a Central Michigan guard, Jan. 16 at John E. Worthen Arena. Ball State defeated Central Michigan, 76-82. Grace Hollars, DN
Turnovers plague Ball State in loss at Central Michigan
Michigan teams have not been kind to Ball State men's basketball over the past five days.
Ball State entered its game against Central Michigan with a chance to secure a first-round bye in the Mid-American Conference Tournament.
After its 75-51 loss in Mount Pleasant, it'll have to wait until Friday to know its fate.
Central Michigan (17-13, 6-11 MAC) was raining 3-pointers and making Ball State (19-11, 10-7 MAC) uncomfortable on the offensive end all night. The Chippewas connected on 12 of their 28 shots from beyond the arc and forced the Cardinals to commit 16 turnovers, which allowed the hosts to run away with the game in the second half.
As soon as the game started, Central Michigan came out firing threes in bunches. The Chippewas first six baskets all came from behind the arc as David Dileo drained his first three triples and set the tone for his team.
Despite the early struggles, Ball State only trailed by three at halftime.
When the second half rolled around, Central Michigan ran away in a hurry. The Chippewas came out of the locker room on an 8-0 run and never looked back.
Central Michigan stifled Ball State, forcing the visitors to shoot just 36 percent from the floor. The Cardinals didn't help themselves out when they got to the charity stripe, shooting just 53 percent from the free-throw line.
The Cardinals are usually a team that distributes the ball efficiently, averaging 14 assists per game on the season. Tonight, however, Ball State finished the night with just five, while Central Michigan dished out 17.
Central Michigan also played a soft press as Ball State tried to bring the ball up the floor, which looked to make the visitors uncomfortable and get them out of rhythm throughout the game.
Overall, sophomore forward Tahjai Teague was the only Cardinal to score in double figures, finishing with 10 points on 5-12 shooting from the field. Junior guard Tayler Persons and junior center Trey Moses had some unusual struggles throughout the night. Moses was consistently doubled in the post and only attempted three shots, finishing with six points and eight rebounds in his 33 minutes of play. Persons shot 3-14 from the field to finish with nine points.
Central Michigan had four double figure scorers. Kevin McKay led the way with 23 points on an efficient 8-15 shooting from the floor. Cecil Williams added 18 points on 50 percent shooting from both the 3-point line and the field. Luke Meyer and David Dileo rounded out the double figure scorers with 10 and 12, respectively.
Ball State was on the wrong end of a 21-3 deficit in points off turnovers on the night.
Ball State will have one more opportunity to clinch a first-round bye in the MAC Tournament when it visits Northern Illinois to close the regular season. Tipoff is scheduled for Friday at 8 p.m.