“There were times where we felt like we had the wide-receiver open and missed the final pass.”
Ball State Men’s Basketball Head Coach James Whitford alluded the Cardinals’ (6-8, 4-5 MAC) 74-42 loss against Akron (10-3, 8-2 MAC) to a possession in football where the start of the play appears to go well but can’t quite get finished off.
Ball State’s 42 points against the Zips is its lowest-scoring game since Feb. 3, 2018 — a 58-41 loss against Eastern Michigan. The Cardinals scored a season-low 16 points in the first half due to inefficient shooting, as they went 29 percent from the field and 16 percent from three.
“It was like a tale of two halves,” Whitford said. “In the first half, we looked really out of rhythm and really out of sync. The ball wasn’t moving really well in the first half. A lot of it was self-induced. I told the team at halftime that we had a lack of trust.”
Redshirt fifth-year guard K.J. Walton, redshirt junior forward Miryne Thomas and redshirt junior forward Zach Gunn were out due to COVID-19 protocols meaning they played with just nine players.
“The issue with not having them isn’t from not having them as players,” Whitford said. “What really challenged us was our rhythm and chemistry together as a unit. We were playing with four guys which is something we don’t normally do.”
Ball State’s highest scorer was senior guard Ishmael El-Amin who scored 13 points. The Cardinals didn’t have anyone else score above eight points. Whitford said his offense said the chemistry was off and that his players weren’t making the best decisions.
“I think because we knew we were playing without some players, guys were trying to do too much,” Whitford said. “I thought we made some bad decisions in the first half. In the second half I thought we played the right way on offense. We had a lot of good possessions but bad timing.”
While the Cardinals shot a better percentage offensively in the second half, they still made just 38 percent of their shots compared to Akron’s 51 percent second-half shooting. Akron scored 13 fastbreak points in the second half and 36 points in the paint for the game.
“In the second half they got us in transition,” Whitford said. “It wasn’t really your back-to-the-basket type of points. It was more of them getting to the rim in the pick-and-rolls and beating us off of the dribble.”
This is Ball State’s biggest loss of the season and Whitford believes they took a step back in this game and felt as if it were the beginning of the season.
“It was a really hard game for us tonight,” Whitford said. “We looked really out of rhythm and out of sync. It looked like we were playing a game in early November and not early February. We played Akron at a time where they are clicking.”
The Cardinals come back home to play Buffalo Tuesday, Feb. 2 for a 6 p.m. tip-off.
Contact Ian Hansen with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ianh_2.