With 57 seconds left and the game all but over, redshirt senior guard Tayler Persons headed to the bench one last time.

The final buzzer sounded, and Bowling Green celebrated a 99-86 win over Ball State to send the Falcons to the semifinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament. It put an end to not only the Cardinals’ season, but a couple Cardinals’ careers as well. 

“I was sad,” Persons said, holding back tears. “It’s my last collegiate game with a team I’ve been through everything with on and off the court. I got a coach that believes in me when I didn’t believe in myself. That’s what it’s all about — finding people you can connect with and love, and I love all these guys.”

Senior center Trey Moses also played his last game in a Ball State uniform. He said hitting the end of the road has given him mixed emotions.

“It’s hit me for sure, but it hasn’t hit me,” Moses said. “I just want to thank everyone at Ball State and coach Whitford for giving me a chance … This team’s been through more than any team in the last two years. I’m more than thankful for everyone here.” 

Cardinal offense was not to blame for the loss. The 86 points scored was the most the team has put up against any conference opponent this season. The Cardinals made eight 3-pointers and shot better than 50 percent from the field. 

“That’s the best we’ve played on offense for a while, if I’m calling it like I see it,” head coach James Whitford said. “Both played well and made a lot of shots. It was really hard for us to get stops.”

Offensively, Persons and Moses didn’t have anything to hang their heads about either. Persons led the game in both points (25) and assists (seven) while making 10 of 22 shots. Moses, while his minutes were limited due to foul trouble, sunk all five of his shot attempts and finished the night with 12 points.

Despite the stat line, Persons said the loss overshadowed his individual performance.

“If I scored 70 and we lost, I’m still hurt. It’s my last game. I know Trey would feel the same way,” Persons said. “A loss is a loss no matter if you get 40 or four. All I say is I know me and him left it all out there. The whole team did … It never makes it easier, man.”

Ball State finished the season with a record of 16-17. Persons said it didn’t go as planned, but the Cardinals have a bright future ahead.

“I’ll be sad for a couple days, I [won’t] lie, but I’ll bounce back,” Persons said. “This team’s in great hands with a great head coach and players. Me and Trey are excited, the legacy we left working hard and being good people. At the end of the day, that’s what matters.”

Contact Zach Piatt with any comments at zapiatt@bsu.edu or on Twitter @zachpiatt13.