Turnovers prove costly for Ball State in loss to Central Michigan

<p>Ball State Head Coach James Whitford discuss a play during the game against Loyola University Chicago on Dec. 3, &nbsp;2019, in John E. Whitford is entering his seventh season with the Cardinals. <strong>Jaden Whiteman, DN</strong></p>

Ball State Head Coach James Whitford discuss a play during the game against Loyola University Chicago on Dec. 3,  2019, in John E. Whitford is entering his seventh season with the Cardinals. Jaden Whiteman, DN

Throughout the entire night, the Cardinals struggled to hold onto the ball. While halftime saw Ball State only down by six, the Cardinals turned over the ball 17 times, leading to 26 Central Michigan points.

While Ball State Men's Basketball (11-8, 4-2 MAC) was able to knock down their turnover count in the second half and make a comeback, the first-half slump would eventually lead to a 71-66 loss to Central Michigan (11-8, 4-2 MAC). 

"I don't have a lot of answers. We didn't play well," head coach James Whitford said in a radio interview. "There were a lot of turnovers. We had a really good practice, and we came in ready to play. A lot of the effort was there. We defended our tail off and beat them on the glass, but we made a lot of poor decisions tonight." 

Every Ball State player who touched the court turned over the ball at least once. Redshirt freshman guard Jarron Coleman had a team-high six followed by junior guard Ishmael El-Amin (5) and redshirt senior forward Tahjai Teague (5).

Ball State held an early lead by as many as seven, but Central Michigan would come back and stay ahead. The Chippewas capitalized on every opportunity they could, as they scored 26 points off of turnovers and forced 11 steals. Central Michigan also outplayed the Cardinals from 3-point range, as it went 3-of-12 to Ball State's 1-of-9. 

"We said at halftime that we couldn't play worse on offense," Whitford said. "We were down by whatever, and if we could clear that part up, we would be good. However, we had some ungodly turnovers, and we played sped up." 

However, Ball State managed to clean up its game in the second half. After being down by as much as 10, the Cardinals were as close as two points of the Chippewas as the game fell within the final two minutes. Teague had another standout performance with 17 points, 18 rebounds and playing with four fouls. 

The second half saw Ball State narrowly outscore Central Michigan, 39-38, off of 40 percent shooting from outside the arc and 19 team rebounds. Along with Teague's 17, three other players finished in double figures in freshman guard Luke Bumbalough (13), Coleman (12) and redshirt freshman guard Kani Acree (10).

In the final two minutes, another quick run by Central Michigan and more turnovers by Ball State would allow the Chippewas to pull away to victory. The Cardinals would finish the game with 28 turnovers, alongside three players falling into foul trouble, and senior forward Kyle Mallers fouling out in the final minute. 

On the night, Central Michigan threw down 33 points off of Ball State turnovers and forced 18 steals to the Cardinals' six. The Chippewas were led by Dallas Morgan, who had 21 points and three steals. He was accompanied by David DiLeo (14) and Kevin McKay (13). Team also shot 76 percent from the foul line. 

With the loss, Ball State dropped it's second Mid-American Conference game and is 1-2 on the road in conference play. The Cardinals remain on the road Tuesday, as they face last season's MAC runner-up Bowling Green. The Falcons face Toledo later Saturday night. 

Contact Jack Williams with comments at jgwilliams@bsu.edu or on Twitter @jackgwilliams.  

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