Trailing by as many as 12 in the second half, Ball State needed something to go its way and with seven minutes left in the game, it did. Redshirt freshman guard Jarron Coleman passed it to freshman guard Luke Bumbalough and he sinks the three on the wing to make it a 49-46 game.
The next possession consisted of Coleman grabbing a rebound and pushing the ball down the court. He looks to his right and finds Bumbalough standing in the corner and he feeds him the ball — swish. This shot ties the game at 49, forces an Eagles timeout and the bench mobs Bumbalough as if he hit a game-winner. For Bumbalough, it was just about getting the team back in it.
“It obviously feels good,” Bumbalough said. “Getting back in the game is the main thing. It kind of just gave us a spark and [Coleman] found me twice off of the rebound and in transition so it feels good to see the shot go in and I feel like it sparked our intensity.”
Bumbalough ended his night with 17 points on an efficient 5-8 shooting from three and added two rebounds and three assists to his total.
Eastern Michigan came out of the timeout and scored to regain the lead with 5:32 left to play. From there, it was all Ball State, as the next play consisted of a Coleman backdoor cut and slam. Coleman ended up scoring six of Ball State’s final 12 points and knew the game was always in reach.
“We knew the game wasn’t over,” Coleman said. “We knew we had a lot of time left and we were fighting the whole game but you could feel the energy switch when Luke hit two threes and they had to call a timeout.”
Eastern Michigan came into the game with the best scoring defense in the Mid-American Conference and the second-best team in the nation in steals with 10 per game.
Head Coach James Whitford praised the team for weathering the storm of its 15 turnovers to find composure late in the game and gave credit to Coleman for finding ways to score inside.
“Jarron was fabulous inside on their zone,” Whitford said. “He creates problems for them because he can get in there and score. When you are playing a team like Eastern, it is a really huge part. If you don’t have somebody who can score inside their zone, we don’t get those threes.”
Not only did Coleman provide a spark on the court, but he was also the energizer to the crowd. After each basket, he would signal Worthen Arena to bring the noise up a notch and was animated on defense, slamming the court as the team brought the ball up.
His passion and work ethic are all apart of the team’s success late in the game and the season as a whole.
“He is a very passionate player,” Whitford said. “He is a good player and the thing I am most proud of him for is really about six or seven weeks ago, you could see what we call our process flip in the way he was working, shooting and the intensity he brought. He’s been chopping the wood as far as his work ethic goes and how he practices.”