Ball State senior forward Kyle Mallers passes the ball over Howard freshman guard Khalil Robinson during the Cardinals' game against the Bison Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019 at John E. Worthen Arena, Muncie, Ind. Mallers tied the program record with eight three pointers. Paige Grider, DN
3-ball comes alive as Ball State Men's Basketball rolls Howard
The octagon ceiling that encloses the court inside Worthen Arena keeps the players and the fans warm and dry. Around 4 p.m. Saturday, the National Weather Service predicted a 90 percent chance of perception.
While the 4,192 fans were sheltered from the elements outside Worthen Arena, it was raining even harder inside.
After going 0-for-9 from 3-point range in the first half Wednesday against Northern Kentucky, Ball State Men's Basketball (4-2, 0-0 MAC) went 13-for-20 in the first half and 21-for-37 in the game from deep Saturday to roll past Howard (0-7, 0-0 MEAC), 100-69.
"It was hard to make of how we shot in the first half and second half," head coach James Whitford said. "I didn't see any difference in the quality of shots, and we were making more in the second half. I thought we really took good shots tonight against their zone. We shared the ball."
The charge was led by senior forward Kyle Mallers, who went 8-for-10 from deep, scoring 24 points and setting a career high in both 3-pointers made and points. In addition, Mallers tied the Ball State 3-point individual game record, and the Cardinals broke the team record with 21 3-pointers made.
"I knocked the first couple down, and I felt good," Mallers said. "I made a few more, and we really just worked with what the defense gave us. We got a lot more open looks."
The team's 3-point impact was right out of the gate, as the team's first six scoring plays were all from downtown. In the first five minutes of the game, Mallers had already racked up 12 points off of four 3-point shots. In all, six different Cardinals hit from deep on the night.
"Honestly, I feel like we just shot at open looks," Mallers said. "We played other teams where we don't get open looks, and its just what we get. If they're giving us open looks like they did today, we're going to take them."
Another facet of the game Ball State saw improvement in was shooting from the free-throw line. The Cardinals went 7-for-8 at the charity stripe, just shy of 90 percent. Redshirt senior guard Josh Thompson said the team has been shooting free throws throughout the week and came in early Saturday to shoot 50 before the game started.
"Our free-throw shooting really caught my attention because it wasn't just one game, but we were shooting poorly through five games," Whitford said. "We upped our volume and tried a few things differently this week. We just have to get better over the long haul. We're going to have good games and bad games, but we just have shot better from the free-throw line."
Everything was clicking for the Cardinals on offense, as senior Thompson hit a career high in assists with 10 on the night. Freshman guard Luke Bumbalough got in on the action, as he knocked down a career-high 18 points, shooting 6-for-10 from 3-point range. Not only did Bumbalough express excitement in his finish tonight, but so did his teammates.
"For a performance like Luke had tonight, that's my guy," Thompson said. "Last game, I was down on myself, and he texted me after the game saying to keep my head up and to keep focused. Just to see him go out and do that tonight, I'm proud. I wanted him to hit one more for 20-plus, but I'm proud of him."
Other standouts in the finish included Junior guard Ishmael El-Amin, who finished with 15 points, redshirt junior forward Brachen Hazen, who had 10 points and was 4-of-4 inside the paint and redshirt senior forward Tahjai Teague, who had 11 points and tied Mallers for most rebounds with six.
Ball State will face Western Illinois Tuesday at Worthen Arena.