Ball State Men’s Basketball is down 10 at the seven-minute mark of the first half against Miami (Ohio). They are 1-of-7 from deep and need something to ignite. In comes freshman guard Luke Bumbalough.
Redshirt senior forward Tahjai Teague kicks it out to Bumbalough, and he hits the team’s second three of the game to make it 23-16, which shifts the momentum. After a couple of Cardinal turnovers, they need another boost. Insert Bumbalough once more. Redshirt junior forward Brachen Hazen grabs the rebound, gives it to redshirt freshman guard Jarron Coleman and he dishes it to Bumbalough for the quick three to make it a 23-19 deficit.
The very next defensive possession consisted of Bumbalough diving to the floor for a steal, following it with a three on the baseline to cut the RedHawks' lead to 23-22, leading to the eruption of Worthen Arena.
“I am here to hit shots,” Bumbalough said. “It is the team finding me, and when we bring intensity, we are good. I don’t think it is a matter of scoring but playing the right way, and you get good shots. Everyone played hard and unselfish.”
“Team” is something Bumbalough has preached since he has stepped foot in college. He said it isn’t about the numbers or popularity, but it is about winning in an unselfish way.
Bumbalough ended the game with 13 points and three assists in the Cardinals’ 71-62 win, making it his fifth game scoring in double figures. The Cardinals are undefeated when he scores 10 or more points. For Bumbalough, he said it just feels good for him knowing his team has his back.
“It just felt good to get a spark going and get back into the game,” Bumbalough said. “It felt good to just have the team behind me, and everyone is just happy for one another and it was just really cool to feel that.”
Head coach James Whitford described Bumbalough’s performance as the game slowing down for him. He added that it’s not his shooting but his passing and unselfishness that makes the most impact.
“He makes a big impact,” Whitford said. “You can see the game slowing down for Luke a little bit. The types of plays he can make right now that he probably couldn’t have a month ago were the two assists he had to Tahjai at the beginning of the game. He plays a little less frazzled.”
It isn’t just the offensive end where Bumbalough is making positive strides, but defending as well. When junior guard Ishmael El-Amin went out with an injury, Bumbalough had to step up defensively. He had to guard Miami’s Nike Sibande, and Whitford said he was proud of how he did.
“The thing he is doing now is becoming a really good defender,” Whitford said. “We put him on Nike Sibande when Ish was out of the game. He has gone from a guy who couldn’t guard anyone at New Castle to a guy who has become a really good defender. The game is slowing down, as he had three assists, made some plays off of the dribble and when he got in the lane, he made some nice passes.”
Not only does Bumbalough and the rest of the team help out the team by scoring points, but them being able to shoot helps open up the paint for the Cardinals’ leading scorer Teague, who ended the day with 14 points.
“Since they are such good shooters, I have more open space to go one-on-one, and if they help, I can kick it out,” Teague said. “Kyle will knock them down any day, and we tell Luke that if he is wide open to shoot. Being able to have shooters on the floor makes my job a lot easier.”