Ball State Men’s Basketball (9-7, 2-1 MAC) had Akron (13-3, 2-1 MAC) on the brink of defeat, but a second-half lapse ultimately was the deciding factor in the Cardinals’ 75-60 loss. Akron has yet to lose at home, and Friday night was no different, as the Zips moved to 10-0 on their stomping grounds. Here are four takeaways.
Tale of two halves
Ball State entered the second half with a 30-27 lead but was no match for the Zips, as they outscored the Cardinals, 48-30, for the rest of the game. The first half consisted of the Cardinals weathering the storm of turnovers and fouls and responding with points in the paint.
Redshirt senior forward Tahjai Teague is part of the reason Ball State outscored Akron, 16-10, in the paint. Fifteen of his 19 points were in the first half, and he was bruising his way past the Akron defenders.
The second half was different. While the Cardinals committed fewer turnovers in the second half (six), they allowed 13 points off of those. In the first half, they allowed six points off of nine turnovers.
Ball State’s defense wasn’t the same in the second half
This was the third game all season the Cardinals have allowed a team to score 75 or more points, and the damage was dealt later on in the game. Ball State allowed Akron to shoot 56 percent from deep in the second half after holding the Zips to just 20 percent in the first.
Not only was Akron efficient beyond the arc in the second, but it also took what the Cardinals were doing in the first half successfully: scoring in the paint. The zips scored 20 points down low compared to Ball State’s 12, and Teague only had four points in the second half.
Ishmael El-Amin stays in an offensive rhythm
The junior guard was the Cardinals’ second-leading scorer with 17 points. He shot an efficient 6-of-12, and this was his 14th game with 10 or more points. When the Cardinals needed someone to step up offensively later in the game, they got the contribution from El-Amin, as he scored 12 of Ball State’s 18 points in the second half.
Rebounding became an issue
When the Cardinals were looking to make a run and even cut a 20-point deficit to just 12, they allowed an Akron offensive rebound, and it would put that rebound up for a bucket plus a foul.
Ball State was outrebounded 19-9 in the second half after getting outrebounded 22-20 in the first half. It allowed Akron to grab 13 offensive rebounds on the night to its own nine.
The Cardinals travel to Eastern Michigan to play the Eagles Tuesday, Jan. 14 at 7 p.m.